Britney Spears, Taylor Swift and monkeypox hope: Five essential things you need to know this week

Britney Spears performing in 2016. (Steve Jennings_WireImage)

Gay men in the United States are having fewer sexual partners due to fears about monkeypox, according to a new survey.

Elsewhere, fears are growing over a nuclear power plant in war-torn Ukraine, while one of the world’s biggest pop stars is speaking out about the abuse she’s endured.

It might feel like there’s a lot going on in the world, but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

Here are five essential things you need to know this week.

1. Monkeypox cases drop as gay men cut out sex

A sign is seen outside with the words 'Monkeypox vaccinations appointment only' on it with a QR code beneath. There are people sitting behind a table behind the sign

Officials have called for monkeypox to be renamed to something that is “neutral, non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising”. (Mario Tama/Getty)

Monkeypox cases are declining across the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

There was significant concern when the virus, usually only detected in parts of Central and West Africa, started spreading rapidly among gay and bisexual men in numerous countries.

Now, it looks as though queer men have listened to advice from health experts. A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 5 and 15 August found around half of respondents had reduced the number of sexual partners they have.

It is not yet clear when the outbreak will be fully contained, but the reduction in cases is being cautiously welcomed by health authorities.

2. Britney Spears is speaking out about her conservatorship

Britney Spears

Britney Spears has made her musical return. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty)

Just days after she unleashed “Hold Me Closer”, her duet with Elton John, Britney Spears opened up once more about the conservatorship that dominated her life for over a decade.

In a 22-minute now-deleted audio recording posted to YouTube, Spears said she had been offered interviews with Oprah Winfrey, and other hard-hitters, to talk about her legal battle – however, she revealed she turned down those opportunities because she felt her story was “beyond a sit-down, proper interview”.

Spears went on to say she still doesn’t know what she did to end up under a conservatorship. She said both of her parents were involved and that it was “pre-meditated”.

Most notably, Spears referenced the night in 2008 when paparazzi filmed her being taken by ambulance to hospital.

“It was all basically set up. There were no drugs in my system. No alcohol. No nothing. It was pure abuse,” Spears said. “And I haven’t even really shared even half of it.”

Both of Britney Spears’ parents have repeatedly denied having abused the singer.

The story is sure to dominate headlines over the next week.

3. United Nations to visit Ukrainian nuclear power plant

Six power units generate 40-42 billion kWh of electricity making the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant the largest nuclear power plant not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe.

Six power units generate 40-42 billion kWh of electricity making the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant the largest nuclear power plant not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe. (Dmytro Smolyenko/Future Publishing via Getty)

Fears have been growing for weeks about the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which has been occupied by Russia since early on in the war.

In recent days, both Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling the power plant – which is the largest in Europe – leading to fears of a potential catastrophe down the line.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Monday (August 29) the UN watchdog is now “on its way” to the plant in a long-awaited visit.

The team will be assessing physical damage to the plant, determining its functionality and safety, evaluating staff conditions, and performing “urgent safeguard” activities.

4. Taylor Swift casually announces new album at the VMAs

Taylor Swift attends the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on August 28, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey.

Taylor Swift attends the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on 28 August, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Taylor Swift pretty much broke the internet when during the VMAs she casually announced she would be releasing a new album in October.

Hours later, full details of “Midnights” was posted to the singer’s social media channels.

In a statement, Swift said the album is the story of “13 sleepless nights scattered throughout [her] life”.

“We lie awake in love and in fear, in turmoil and in tears,” Swift wrote.

“For all of us who have tossed and turned and decided to keep the lanterns lit and go searching – hoping that just maybe, when the clock strikes twelve… we’ll meet ourselves.”

The news was greeted with the fanfare the world has come to expect when Swift announces a new album.

5. The UK is inching ever-closer to getting a new leader

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. (Getty/PinkNews)

It is now just one week until the next leader of the Conservative party is announced.

The Tory leadership race has rumbled on for weeks – the initially-crowded field has been whittled down to just two, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.

And both have proven they’re not afraid to resort to making toxic comments about trans people in a desperate bid to win support.

Sunak has suggested he would ban trans women from competing in women’s sports, while Truss has spoken out against gender-affirming care for minors.

In one of the lowest ebbs of the race, both answered “no” when asked if a trans woman is a woman.

Most will be glad to see the leadership race come to an end – but whatever the result is, it’s unlikely to be good news for LGBTQ+ people.