A gay man took to TikTok to get candid about what it’s like to have monkeypox.
Writer, actor and singer Matt Ford posted what he dubbed a monkeypox PSA (Public Service Announcement) to TikTok on 27 June, sharing his experience with the virus.
Ford began the video bluntly, saying: “My name is Matt, I have monkeypox, this s**t sucks and you don’t want it.”
As he explained, the disease is “primarily affecting queer men” but “can spread to anyone.”
Ford said that he had most likely contracted monkeypox from a friend a week prior. Monkeypox can be acquired via skin to skin contact, sharing bodily fluids and breathing the same air as someone with monkeypox for prolonged periods of time.
He said that his symptoms are quite severe and counted up to 25 lesions on his face, hands, and in more sensitive areas which were painful.
“I had to go to my doctor to ask for painkillers just to be able to go to sleep,” Ford said. He emphasises that it was “really f**king painful.”
In addition to lesions, Ford experienced a cough, swollen lymph nodes, chills and a fever that left him sweating through his sheets. Symptoms vary among people.
US has ‘dropped the ball’ on monkeypox
Ford also used the video to highlight the “lacklustre job” being done by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in tracking the number of US monkeypox cases.
“The CDC is doing a really lacklustre job of tracking how many cases there actually are due to lags in testing,” he said.
He referred to an NPR article headlined: “Monkeypox outbreak in US is bigger than the CDC reports. Testing is ‘abysmal’.”
In the report, a number of doctors and scientists said that the US has “dropped the ball” on testing, with hospitals refusing many people presenting symptoms.
Biologist Joseph Osmundson said: “State officials are denying people testing because they’re using a narrow definition of monkeypox to decide who receives a test. They’re testing in only a very restrictive number of cases.”
Osmundson added: “We have no concept of the scale of the monkeypox outbreak in the US.”
Ford has also been tweeting about his experience with monkeypox, telling followers: “I have monkeypox currently and this s**t is absolutely no joke. If you’re in New York and can get the vaccine, go do it.”
In another tweet Matt slammed the CDC again and said: “Why is it so incredibly difficult to obtain Tecovirimat (or TPOXX) for treatment of monkeypox during an ongoing outbreak? It’s the primary treatment shown to treat it, no? People are unable to get it and suffering.”
I have monkeypox currently and this shit is absolutely no joke.
If you’re in New York and can get the vaccine, go do it.
— Matt Ford (@JMatthiasFord) June 23, 2022
.@CDCgov @CDCDirector Why is it so incredibly difficult to obtain Tecovirimat (or TPOXX) for treatment of monkeypox during an ongoing outbreak? It’s the primary treatment shown to treat it, no? People are unable to get it and suffering.
— Matt Ford (@JMatthiasFord) June 27, 2022
Phillip Gomez is CEO of Sigma, the small company that makes the antiviral Tecovirima. Gomez told Politico that the current supply for the drug is limited and that the company is in talks with president Biden to increase manufacturing while other countries also seek supplies.
“We’re working with many of those countries to work through how to respond to the current monkeypox demand,” he said.
As of 30 June, according to World Health Organization (WHO) there are currently 3,413 recorded monkeypox cases globally.
The CDC has reported 351 cases nationally as of 29 June. The UK has reported 1,076 as of 26 June.
Monkeypox lesions. (MarioGuti/Getty Images)
At the present moment the best course of action for protection against monkeypox is getting a vaccine, where available.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has recommended the smallpox vaccine Imvanex be administered to gay and bisexual men as they have a high risk of contracting monkeypox.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at UKHSA, said: “Our extensive contact tracing work has helped to limit the spread of the monkeypox virus, but we are continuing to see a notable proportion of cases in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.
“By expanding the vaccine offer to those at higher risk, we hope to break chains of transmission and help contain the outbreak.”
Experts have reiterated that monkeypox is not a “gay disease” and is not sexually transmitted.