The viral disease will reportedly be named “MPOX” to avoid stigma, following pressure from the US
The World Health Organization (WHO) will soon announce the redesignation of monkeypox as “MPOX”, Politico reports citing anonymous sources. The decision was reportedly made under pressure from Washington.
The renaming of the disease could be announced as early as Wednesday, Politico said. The outlet reported that members of the Biden administration had threatened unilateral action unless the WHO acted quickly.
The disease caught the attention of the global media this year after affecting tens of thousands of people in North America and Europe. While not technically a sexually transmitted infection, it spreads primarily through skin and mucous membrane contact and predominantly affects gay men. WHO data shows that most recorded cases have occurred in “a party setting with sexual contact.”
US officials have claimed that the name monkeypox hinders vaccination efforts, especially among people of color.
The virus was first identified in macaque monkeys in the late 1950s, hence the disease’s name. The pathogen was not associated with a human disease until 1970 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and has historically remained endemic in West and Central Africa.
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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that stigma was a serious problem for monkeypox prevention when he publicly discussed this year’s outbreak.
By November, the organization had recorded nearly 80,000 confirmed cases and 50 deaths since the start of the year. In cases where the patient’s HIV status was known, 38% were HIV positive. The epidemic currently appears to be declining.
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