Monkeypox warning issued to queer men ahead of Pride in London as cases continue to surge

The monkeypox infection has been detected largely among gay and bisexual men.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a warning ahead of Pride weekend following yet another spike in monkeypox infections.

The number of confirmed cases of the rare virus has risen by 159 to 1,235 as of Thursday (30 June), up from 1,076 as of Tuesday (28 June).

Wendi Shepherd, monkeypox incident director at UKHSA said, warned that the outbreaking would continue to grow among the queer community.

“Our investigations and information from confirmed cases continue to show that the overwhelming majority of cases are in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men,” she said.

“This weekend, let’s enjoy Pride safely – before you go to any events or parties, check yourself for blister-like spots and rashes. Please don’t attend if you have monkeypox symptoms or feel unwell. If you have a rash or blisters, stay at home, phone a sexual health clinic, and get tested.”

Shepherd added: “Please be vigilant for any monkeypox symptoms in the coming weeks – especially if you are having sex with someone new.”

To aid with contact tracing, Shepherd also asked that people “ensure they exchange contact details with sexual partners, to help us limit further transmission where cases occur”.

Although the majority of cases have been found in queer men, experts are keen to stress that anyone can get monkeypox as it is not a “gay disease”.

UKHSA has posted a video to its Twitter feed detailing how people can stay safe during Pride to ensure they don’t catch monkeypox.

Monkeypox can be transmitted through touching, clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash.

It can also be passed on through the coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash.

Symptoms of monkeypox are fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, lesions, coughing and fever.

This warning comes after there is estimated to be 1.5 million people attending Pride weekend in London on 2 July.

Pride in London’s 2022 parade will start at Hyde Park Corner at midday, before making its way through Piccadilly and Piccadilly Circus and then turning south on Haymarket.

From there it will travel towards Trafalgar Square before finishing in Whitehall at around 6pm.