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Pox The Monkey

Forty years after AIDS first showed up in the gay male community, the band is still playing on
Pox The Monkey

Sign of the times:

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This is something I will never understand: how promiscuity is so much a part of anyone's life. Remember when we were told that gay male promiscuity had to do with the fact that society wouldn't let them partner and marry? It was always absurd. It had to do with the fact that men have a high sex drive, and without the restraints of religious taboos or having to negotiate the complexities of female desire, many will act like rutting apes.

Do you want to know what monkeypox can do to you? If you're not too squeamish, check out these NSFW photos on the New England Journal of Medicine site, of monkeypox lesions on male genitals. It's breathtakingly horrible. Here's a link to the information veteran science reporter Donald G. McNeil gives about monkeypox, via Bari Weiss's site. Excerpts:

This May, it appeared among gay men, especially those who had visited four venues: the Darklands leather fetish festival in Belgium; the annual Pride Festival in Spain’s Canary Islands; a gay rave at Berlin’s Berghain techno club; and the Paraiso sauna in Madrid, which, since it had darkened cubicles for orgies, a bondage cell and a bar, was really more of a huge sex club than a spa.

Even though one “sex-positive” party after another has turned into super-spreader events, there has been no willingness by the organizers of such parties to cancel or even reschedule them until more men can be vaccinated.  June was Pride Month in New York and cases are surging in the city now. Two recent parties in San Francisco,   Electroluxx Pride and the Afterglow Blacklight Discotheque had cases linked to them. And yet more events, like Provincetown Bear Week are going forward anyway.

Outside of Africa, the disease has not killed anyone yet. But for some victims, the pain—especially from pustules inside the mouth or rectum—is so severe that it requires hospitalization. Others feel miserable for weeks; a few get permanent scars. Also, those with monkeypox are supposed to stay in isolation until all the pox crust over and the scabs fall off, which can take up to a month.

The negligible fatality rate won’t necessarily persist if the virus escapes its current network: mostly young, mostly healthy adult men.

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In five subsequent articles, I’ve made some fairly strident suggestions.

First, that we talk frankly about risky gay male sex networks instead of fretting about stigmatization. Stopping an epidemic is more important than greenwashing it. Second, that this summer’s Pride celebrations for men (not the parades, the “sex-positive” after-parties) should be rescheduled until autumn, when many more men will be vaccinated and rapid tests should be available to enable testing right at the party door. Third, that we stop pretending that ring vaccination could ever work and instead offer vaccine to all men with multiple sex partners, and to all sex workers. (Vaccinating the “ring” of contacts around each case is impossible when men have anonymous sex—they don’t know who their contacts are.) Fourth, that we roll out both the Jynneos and the ACAM2000 vaccines and screen men for the risks posed by the older vaccine. Fifth, that the government offer a month’s shelter to all men who test positive so they can isolate safely under medical surveillance.  (Not all gay men live fabulous lives; some have to sell sex to eat and pay rent.)

We will never talk frankly about risky gay male sex networks, or do anything else like that. We have been vaccinated against common sense by wokeness. The late gay journalist Randy Shilts wrote in his acclaimed 1987 book And The Band Played On about the indifference and folly that led to AIDS becoming a massive public health crisis. He talked about government's failures, but also the failures of the gay community, which did not want to be told what not to do with its collective body. From Shilts's book (I can't cut and paste from the excerpt on Amazon, just photograph parts, hence the incomplete sentences:

More:

This vivid scene does the job of making you realize how morally and medically insane many of these people were:

That's not what he found in San Francisco in the early 1980s. More:

You get the point. And now, monkeypox, which, thank God, is not nearly as severe as AIDS, but it's bad enough. And yet, here we are. Nobody is talking bluntly about any of this. Nobody is talking about shutting down bathhouses and sex clubs. I just checked the website of the gay magazine Advocate to see what its coverage of monkeypox is like. As of 6pm central European time on Monday, the first 27 stories on the site, here's the only one about monkeypox:

Incredibly revealing about priorities, no?

Forty years after AIDS came into this world, we are, if anything, more politically correct (such a quaint phrase) about gay sexual habits than we were then. And we are even more unwilling to discuss any fact about crime, disease, or any social pathology that threatens to cast a negative light on any sacred victim demographic. We all know this is true, but we are used to it now, aren't we? Nothing will change. The band will still play on. Same song, seven hundred and seventy third verse.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the US Surgeon General will make a strong statement based on scientific fact, showing neither fear nor favor, only the public's interest. Maybe the Biden Administration will take a tough stand for the sake of shutting down this preventable pandemic before it gets worse. Oh wait...

Comments

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Michael Campbell
Michael Campbell
Covid is a libertarian virus, fated to mock ill suited attempts to control and bad cost/benefit analysis, that the state tried to attack with authoritarianism.
Monkeypox is an authoritarian virus, not easily spread and with very defined avenues of infection to attack, that the state is being quite libertarian towards.
Its far better to see libertarianism applied to an authoritarian-suited situation than the reverse, but the contrast, and continued stupidity of court magicians, is revealing.
schedule 2 months ago
    Michael Campbell
    Michael Campbell
    I'm not natively a right winger. My habit is to swing vote and distrust both, and I usually don't vote the same way in two consecutive elections. But what I saw in Covid I can't unsee. The left was blatantly dumb, cultish, and awful and cannot be trusted to reasonably weigh cost-benefit going forward. What they did on kids was criminal. The right is often lazy, corrupt, and rhetorically extreme but they've never taken leave of their senses to the detriment of millions to the same degree.
    schedule 2 months ago
      JON FRAZIER
      JON FRAZIER
      Covid should not have been politicized by either side and the right is as much to blame there as the Left. A plague on both houses (Somewhere there's a pun in that but it's too early for met to tease it out)
      schedule 2 months ago
        Michael Campbell
        Michael Campbell
        Could it not be politicized? It's a disease that resulted in inevitably political choices to be made. The right's were reasonable in proportion. The left's were most definitely not. There's no equivalence in publicly doubting the efficacy of masks and shots and mandates around them, doubts that need to be heard and debated, and something like mass school closures.

        The left is guilty of terrible policy. The right is only guilty of attacking policy - that's politics, and totally fair.
        schedule 2 months ago
          JON FRAZIER
          JON FRAZIER
          Neither Covid paranoia nor Covid denialism were reasonable. And the Right's oft-made point that "it only kills old people" is hardly a good look (or ethically solid) in a party that purports to be pro-Life. Again: A plague on both!
          schedule 2 months ago
JON FRAZIER
JON FRAZIER
On monkeypox it is NOT an STD in the way that syphilis or HIV are. Like it's (hopefully extinct) kin-virus smallpox it can be passed by any sort of close physical contact, and more rarely by respiratory means.
schedule 2 months ago
Chris Karr
Chris Karr
"We will never talk frankly about risky gay male sex networks, or do anything else like that."
Maybe it's just me - and I haven't been following the monkeypox story except for when it pops up in my news feed - but there didn't seem to be any question about the illness primarily spreading due to gay sex networks. I don't know what you want people to say that isn't being said.
schedule 2 months ago
    Chris Karr
    Chris Karr
    NPR at the beginning of the outbreak[1]:
    "In the U.S., one patient, in Massachusetts, had not recently traveled to countries where the disease occurs but had visited Canada."
    (Continued below.)
    [1] https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2022/05/18/927043767/rare-monkeypox-outbreak-in-u-k-and-europe-what-is-it-and-should-we-worry
    schedule 2 months ago
      Chris Karr
      Chris Karr
      "In addition, there's evidence the virus could be spreading through a new route: sexual contact. "What is even more bizarre is finding cases that appear to have acquired the infection via sexual contact," epidemiologist Mateo Prochazka at the UKHSA tweeted. "This is a novel route of transmission that will have implications for outbreak response and control."
      schedule 2 months ago
      Chris Karr
      Chris Karr
      "'We are particularly urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay,' epidemiologist Hopkins said in the UKHSA's statement."
      schedule 2 months ago
        Michael Campbell
        Michael Campbell
        Imagine if that was the extent of Covid policy.
        schedule 2 months ago
          JON FRAZIER
          JON FRAZIER
          Covid spreads by airborne means, and as such it was a general threat to everyone. (Show of hands: who has had Covid here? My hand is raised) Monkeypox is not a general threat.
          schedule 2 months ago
Peter Kurilecz
Peter Kurilecz
"men have a high sex drive, and without the restraints of religious taboos or having to negotiate the complexities of female desire, many will act like rutting apes."
I remember reading And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts when it first came out. he described in detail the sexual contacts with the gay community. it was not unusual for them to multiple sexual encounters in one night whereas a hetersexual man would be lucky if he could even chat up a young woman, even luckier if he got to go home with her. Homosexual men had sexual encounter after sexual encounter night after night. rutting apes is an apt description
schedule 2 months ago