All Arizonans at Risk for Monkeypox; Stigmatizing Helps No One

All Arizonans at Risk for Monkeypox; Stigmatizing Helps No One

          The outbreak of monkeypox puts all Arizonans at potential risk for the infection that is rarely fatal.

According to a World Health Organization statement on July 20, the reported mortality rate for those infected by monkeypox stood at 0.00036%. Of 14,000 infections worldwide, five deaths were reported, none in the United States. The mortality rate for severe flu annually is 0.1%, according to the World Health Organization.

“While the virus is disproportionately affecting gay and bisexual men, the risk of infection is possible among all of us,” said Jimmy Thomason, executive director at Aunt Rita’s Foundation. “The good news is that there already is an FDA-approved vaccine being actively administered throughout the country and information and education about the virus is coming out every day. The challenging news is the impact of potential stigmatization targeting a specific group of people.

“Let’s avoid the blame game, the finger-pointing and the sensationalism that can come with a potential health crisis,” Thomason said. “Pay attention to your health, listen to medical advice, and take the precautions that are immediately available.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Monkeypox spreads in different ways, and can be spread from person-to-person through:

  • direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
  • pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta

“Unlike what we saw with HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, Monkeypox has received immediate attention from leaders throughout the country and the world,” Thomason said. “This is encouraging because we are collectively facing a challenge head-on with the tools we need to eliminate monkeypox altogether.”

 With roots in Phoenix since 1988, Aunt Rita’s Foundation is dedicated to the elimination of and suffering from HIV and AIDS through collaborations with Arizona HIV service organizations and local and statewide government agencies. Aunt Rita’s Foundation helps fund HIV programs at 14 non-profit organizations through more than $2 million in grants.

            For more information about Aunt Rita’s Foundation, visit

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