The number of black men in the United States being diagnosed with monkeypox is growing — and the vaccine is not keeping up.
At the start of the global outbreak, declared in May, the vast majority of US patients – 75% – were white. That rate has slowly declined over the course of the outbreak and is now around 25%, according to the report US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, the percentage of black men diagnosed with monkeypox has skyrocketed from 6% to nearly 40% in the past 4 months—nearly 600% increase.
Black individuals are now diagnosed with monkeypox more often than any other racial or ethnic group in the US, according to CDC data. But whites are making up the lion’s share of vaccinations — only one out of every four whites who have been vaccinated has contracted the disease, according to CDC dataLast updated last week.
Leo Parker, director of the prevention program for National Alliance of STD Directorstold Luck.
“It mostly resembles smallpox in monkeys.”
It is possible that minority cases of monkeypox in the United States were initially underreported due to a lack of access to testing and general health care. The increase is significant, said Parker, given racial differences in vaccination rates.
The gap may be due, at least in part, to trust issues that some Black individuals experience with vaccinations sponsored by the US government, Parker said. A major factor causing hesitation: Tuskegee syphilis study, which took place from 1932-1972. Over the course of a decade-long study, government health officials surreptitiously observed the progression of the disease, which can be fatal, in hundreds of black men without notice. inform them of the true nature of the intention or offer of treatment, when it is available.
However, more efforts are needed to reach gay black men in rural areas, some of whom may not have traveled to larger cities for vaccinations, Parker said.
But do the outreach, Parker says — and so far there’s been no federal funding, despite the US Department of Health and Human Services’ claims public health emergency in August.
“A lot of public health agencies are paying for monkeypox tests at private labs for uninsured patients,” he said. “The funding to pay for those tests comes from somewhere else that’s much-needed.”