After years of quarantine, half-empty restaurants, and rounds of vaccines, people are getting pandemic fatigue.

But a new health crisis is disproportionately affecting the LGBT community.

To help sort facts from panic-induced fiction, Our Fund is holding a town hall at The Pride Center on June 16 at 6:30 p.m.

“Keenly aware of the various pressing health and social issues South Florida’s LGBTQ community faces, Our Fund Foundation was compelled to address the latest threat from monkeypox and promptly partnered with The Pride Center at Equality Park along with a dozen other LGBTQ community partners to form a united front,” Our Fund said when announcing the event.

As of this writing, 65 cases have been diagnosed in the U.S., with at least five in Florida, including three in Broward County. Most alarming for the LGBT community is that nearly all cases in the U.S. are men who have sex with men. And those are just the cases we know of.

“As a marginalized population, the LGBTQ community is used to standing up for ourselves and being vigilant about our health, especially as it relates to contagious viruses,” said David Jobin, president and CEO of Our Fund Foundation. “With monkeypox’s relatively lengthy incubation period and only sporadic reporting from the Florida Department of Health, we believe it is very likely infections are being underreported.”

The panel will feature several infectious disease experts who can discuss symptoms, treatments, and prevention.

The Pride Center isn’t just hosting the event, they’re also actively working to spread awareness.

“Our team has educated about monkeypox at every face-to-face event we’ve hosted over the last month, provided fact sheets during outreach events where we provide HIV testing, and used social media to distribute educational information,” said The Pride Center at Equality Park CEO Robert Boo. “The Pride Center and Our Fund are both strong proponents of sharing any and all information as it relates to our community.”

The current epidemic is traced back to a pair of so-called super spreader events in Europe, which were attended predominantly by gay men. Several cases in Chicago have been traced back to IML a couple of weeks ago. Though not as easily spread as COVID-19, it is spread through prolonged close contact, including sex and being in crowded spaces.

Incubation of monkeypox is generally one to three weeks and the disease is similar to smallpox, which was declared eradicated nearly 50 years ago. That means there are entire generations that are unvaccinated and vulnerable.

Jobin told SFGN that now, when there are only a few dozen cases, is the time to get people’s attention, especially as we go into Pride weekend.

“This isn't yet a major story, our reason for acting now is so that it doesn't become a big issue in South Florida for men who have sex with men. There is uncertainty about current numbers in Florida due to the inaction of Florida's Department of Health. But we know from the Sun Sentinel's reporting on June 1 that there were three cases in Florida and all of them were in Broward County. Prior to that, on May 26, the CDC confirmed nine cases in the US, all in men who have sex with men. Those two facts are cause for concern leading into Pride weekend when we know there will be large gatherings and likely higher sexual activity.”

The town hall is scheduled at The Pride Center’s Schubert Building Main Hall, located at 2040 N. Dixie Highway in Wilton Manors on Thursday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. A video feed will be live-streamed on The Pride Center’s Facebook page, recorded, and later shared.


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