Early data shows monkeypox disproportionately affecting Black men
By Helena Oliviero, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
7 hours ago
Monkeypox in Georgia is infecting an overwhelming number of Black people compared to other races — a disproportionate effect not anticipated just a few weeks ago, new data from the Georgia Department of Public Health show.
Dr. Jonathan Colasanti, an infectious disease specialist, says it’s important people know the virus is most heavily affecting communities of color — and that those already infected have access to testing, treatment, and vaccines.
“A few weeks ago when this was circulating in Europe, this wasn’t even being talked about in our communities of color. And I think there was an initial perception that this was in, largely white communities and white, gay and MSM (men having sex with men) communities,” said Colasanti, who is also the medical director of Grady Memorial Hospital’s Ponce De Leon Center, a comprehensive program dedicated to serving those living with or affected by HIV.
“But I just want our folks here at home to know that that’s absolutely not the case. ... And at this point in Atlanta, (monkeypox is) very heavily concentrated within communities of color, based on the early epidemiologic data we have.”
By Tuesday, confirmed cases in Georgia had climbed to 625, according to DPH. The actual number is likely far higher.
Data from DPH, available for 74% of the cases, shows this racial breakdown: 82% Black people, 14% white, under 1% Asian; multiracial and “other” accounted for a total of about 3%. The data also noted that 6% of the cases are among Hispanic people.
Nathan Townsend, manager of prevention services for NAESM, an organization that works to address health issues of gay Black men, has been working to get individuals vaccinated against monkeypox. For him, it was no surprise that most of the state’s monkeypox patients are Black.
“We see that kind of disparity across all health outcomes when it comes to African Americans. Health equity is just not there. It’s because we don’t access services for a myriad of reasons, we’re distrusting of the health community. So, even with the vaccinations, there are people who are undecided,” said Townsend, who is Black.