July 27, 2022

Academy Asks HHS to Improve Monkeypox Outbreak Response

The Academy joined the Infectious Diseases Society of America and other organizations in asking U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand the scope and urgency of its response to the monkeypox virus (MPV) outbreak. As many Academy members are experiencing firsthand, regulatory hurdles combined with insufficient health care and public health resources, and personnel and infrastructure already strained by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are presenting substantial barriers to patient access to MPV vaccination, diagnostics, and treatment.

Without timely and effective health care and public health approaches to combat this virus, we will lose more ground, the outbreak will be unnecessarily prolonged (with both human and economic costs) and we risk establishing animal reservoirs in the U.S. This is a global outbreak, and U.S. leadership and coordination with other countries is important to prevent further transmission. We must immediately apply lessons learned from the COVID-19 and HIV pandemics to ensure a more equitable, rapid, and well-coordinated MPV response.

As readers likely are aware, the MPV outbreak is disproportionately impacting a population that has long experienced stigma and discrimination: gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has also found that, among those with MPV for whom HIV status was known, nearly 43 percent had coinfection with HIV. Finally, early MPV data from some states indicate racial disparities, necessitating the Administration adhere to its commitment to health equity and use it as a guiding force in the response effort.

The letter outlines several recommendations focused on vaccination, testing, treatment, and community engagement. The full request can be found here.

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