Recent Comments

    Monkeypox Is a Public Health Crisis

    By Tyler TerMeer, PhD–

    A public health crisis.

    A community filled with fear, unanswered questions, and valid outrage!

    A resilient people that have had to rise up in support of one another, to educate each other—AND—to fight for access to the resources they need and deserve.

    A moment in history where a federal public health response fails them causing unnecessary emotional, mental, and physical harm.

    NO—I’m not chronicling HIV/AIDS policy from the initial years when the federal government resisted addressing the onset of the AIDS epidemic in our country.

    I’m referencing this very moment in our nation’s history when there has once again been a lack of urgency during a public health crisis that is impacting cis and transgender men as well as nonbinary folx within the same social and sexual networks in our country.

    So, how did we possibly arrive at this moment!?

    The history of the U.S. government action on HIV/AIDS offers important lessons concerning the limits and possibilities of U.S. public health policy and healthcare delivery.

    The last few years have taught us valuable lessons on how to intentionally and equitably scale up testing, community awareness, vaccination—AND—how coordinated harm reduction messaging can help prevent the spread of disease.

    But here we are months after ringing the first alarms to the federal government, weeks after my warning that we had an imminent window to get ahead of the spread of monkeypox (MPX) in our community. And now we arrive in a public health state of emergency.

    San Francisco AIDS Foundation applauds the decision by San Francisco Department of Health to declare MPX a public health emergency. 

    We hope that this decision brings greater resources and attention to the MPX response in San Francisco, and we pushed for the federal government to also declare a similar public health emergency.  

    We’ve heard that one reason the federal government [did not prior to August 4] declare a public health emergency around MPX is because MPX is not a fatal disease.

    This is true.

    But what cannot be overstated is that MPX is causing extreme distress, fear, anxiety, and pain to our community.

    There will be unfortunate, lasting consequences to our communities because of the federal government’s slow response to this outbreak. 

    Even with this public health emergency declared in San Francisco, we cannot let up on our demands for a number of things here in our city.

    We need more vaccines, and we need them quickly.

    We must ensure that testing and vaccines are made available to all people who may be at increased risk of MPX.

    Our clinicians need easier access to MPX treatment, so that people who are diagnosed with MPX can receive care quickly and efficiently.

    We need to lift up vaccine equity and ensure that communities that are disproportionately being impacted by MPX have access to the information and resources they need. 

    And finally, we must continue to fight stigma by balancing the need for population-specific messaging with non-stigmatizing, sex-positive, health communications and public health response strategies.

    For ongoing information about MPX and how to take action in our community, please visit https://www.sfaf.org/monkeypox/

    Tyler TerMeer, PhD, is the Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

    Published on August 11, 2022