When British health officials unveiled monkeypox had arrived in Britain in early May, it looked like another isolated, imported case – a reminder of the threat of pathogens worldwide, but easily containable.
A week later, when two unrelated patients emerged, intrigue mounted. That soon turned to alarm when, on May 16, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said almost all the new cases were in gay and bisexual men.
Mateo Prochazka, an sexually transmitted infections (STI) expert at the UKHSA, put it bluntly: the virus, transmitted via close contact, was spreading via sexual networks – a “bizarre” trend which had “never been described before”.
We’ve seen a disease which can be spread by close contact (not necessarily sexual, but since sex involves close contact etc) rip through a highly promiscuous community before. It’s the promiscuity which speeds the rip through of course.
Even this isn’t right though:
“Sex is keeping R above one during this outbreak,” she said. “You’re going to get a few spillover exceptions, but those aren’t going to keep R above one and that’s why we’re still seeing — and can expect to continue to see — the overwhelming dominance of [monkeypox] amongst men have sex with men populations.”
No, it’s men who have sex with many men population. The monogamous couple of any sexual flavour are no more at risk of this than any other. It’s the promiscuity, not the form of sex.