Biden Appoints Monkeypox (MPV) Coordinators; HRC Calls for Greater Federal Response

by Jared Todd

WASHINGTON - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, commended the Biden Administration for appointing Robert Fenton and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis to serve as White House coordinator and deputy coordinator, respectively, to combat the spread of Monkeypox (MPV), while calling for more immediate action on the part of the federal government. Fenton helped lead FEMA’s COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign as FEMA’s acting administrator and Dr. Daskalakis is the director of the CDC’s HIV prevention division who also serves as an expert on issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community.

We’re glad to see the White House taking a step forward in combating the spread of MPV across the country by appointing Robert Fenton and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis as MPV coordinators. Their combined experience and expertise is an important asset in getting MPV under control.

The reality, however, is that we need much more from our government and the window for immediate action is rapidly closing. We are hopeful that Mr. Fenton and Dr. Daskalakis will help to ramp up mobilization of the federal response to this public health emergency, while partnering with community organizations and health clinics to reach those most at risk. Communities across the country are in desperate need of more vaccines, increased and easier access to testing, more direct health care provider training, funding for state and local health departments and sexual health clinics to effectively treat their patients.

It’s imperative that we prioritize outreach to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals to ensure equitable access to vaccines and treatment. A public health response that does not center equity is a failed public health response.”

Torrian L Baskerville, Director of HRC’s HIV and Health Equity program

HRC has been closely monitoring the monkeypox outbreak, especially as the virus spreads primarily among gay, bisexual and transgender men, and transgender women. According to the CDC, as of August 1, there were 5,810 confirmed cases of MPV in the U.S., though this number is likely an undercount due to limited testing capacity. As of today, the cities of San Francisco and New York as well as New York State, Illinois and California have declared states of emergency.

In an effort to get accurate and timely information to the LGBTQ+ community, HRC launched a resource page that lays out what the virus is, how it spreads, symptoms to watch for and current vaccine information, among other crucial information based on CDC and HHS guidance. MPV is a rare but potentially serious, viral illness that typically involves flu-like symptoms, accompanied by a rash, which may look like pimples or blisters. This virus can be transmitted to anyone, anywhere through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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