Updated: Aug 23, 2022
By Eduardo Morales, Ph.D.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation is faced with an ever-increasing number of Monkey Pox Virus (MPX) cases that is closely related to the virus causing smallpox. Recently, the Governor of California has declared a state of emergency for California given the rapid increase in the transmission of MPX. As of August 3, 2022, San Francisco reported 397 MPX cases compared to a handful of cases a month ago. This rapid spread is most noted among Latinx persons which is 26.8% of MPX cases. Latinxs are the highest ethnic group to be infected with MPX compared to the expected rates of 15.2% by 2020 U.S. Census Data. Although not as contagious as COVID-19, more people in the LGBTQ+ community need protection by obtaining the MPX vaccine according to SF Department of Health (SFDPH). Getting the vaccine soon after exposure to MPX helps prevent from being infected and developing symptoms. Given the rapid spread and need for vaccines, Mayor London Breed declared a Public Health Emergency for MPX with SFDPH officials.
AGUILAS, an HIV prevention program for Latinx LGBTQ+ persons in S.F., can make special arrangements and had its staff and some of its program participants obtain appoints for MPX on a limited basis. This thereby, avoided the 6-to-8-hour lines for obtaining the PMX vaccine while ensuring the health of the Latinx LGBTQ+ community. Although two vaccines are recommended, SFDPH is only providing one vaccination until more vaccines become available for a recommended second administration of the MPX vaccine. For those insured by Kaiser inquire about obtaining the MPX vaccine by Kaiser. As local social gatherings have increased, so does the probability of MPX transmission due to close physical contact. For example, you need to have prolonged, physical contact or share bedding or clothing with someone who has the virus. This includes kissing, licking, skin to skin rubbing sharing sex toys, towels, and utensils. MPX is not as contagious as COVID-19 nor is it spread by casual conversation or walking by a person infected with MPX. Testing for MPX is available at a clinic or health care provider. While waiting for your MPX test results you should stay at home and away from others, put off travel on public transportation, call persons whom you have had close contact since the start of your symptoms, and protect pets. Symptoms include blisters or spots, as well as other symptoms that can be mistaken for the flu, cold, or other viral infections and these may take one to two weeks to develop symptoms. More information about MPX is available on the CDC website in English and Spanish as well as on Telemundo in Spanish via the internet. Entering the name Monkey Pox Virus on their website. Managing Stress Amid Concurrent Health Crisis: There is a national campaign entitled #wellnessforall that was developed by various national ethnic psychological associations in partnership with Meta thru Facebook and Provoc located on the Facebook page Provoc #wellnessforall. You can find the press release in the SF Bay Times dated August 3, 2022, on the internet (https://sfbaytimes.com/ad-campaign-drives-access-to-mental-health-resources-forbipoc-communities/). This is the second year this national campaign is launched integrating culturally derived strategies supported by science for their efficacy. This national campaign is now launched for this summer on Facebook. Meanwhile, I continue to be involved as a partner in the creation of this national campaign since its inception last year.
More immediate strategies for stress reduction include regulating ones breathing, taking walks, exercising, eating properly, drinking lots of water, obtaining social support, doing things that help you relax. Managing your daily life routines also helps by taking power breaks of about 20 minutes each day, obtaining individual counseling, joining a support group, and being mindful of
your temperament. Follow the CDC guidelines for COVID-19 and MPX to avoid being infected and have reoccurring infections. Keep your health provider informed and up to date.
I find that doing things that I enjoy that make me happy while stimulating my interests and curiosity for knowledge and information helps me cope and manage stress. These are stressful times complicated by various health crises affecting our customary life. If you adhered to the COVID-19 guidelines by wearing an KN95 mask and by maintaining social distancing, you are doing what is necessary to prevent infection for both COVID-19 and MPX. I am hopeful we will have these health crises behind us soon. Take advantage of health prevention programs available to you in your county such as prevention services offered at AGUILAS for Latinx LGBTQ+ persons.