The US's response to monkeypox fails to put patients and their care at its centre, writes Eric Kutscher in the BMJ opinion article.
As a primary care and addiction medicine physician, Kutscher has been dismayed by the number of patients he has treated over the past few weeks who’ve been infected with the vaccine-preventable monkeypox virus. Most have been in considerable pain and required strong analgesics, with some unable to even sit because of their skin lesions. Yet for many, the most agonising and scarring aspect of their infection is not their physical symptoms, but the complete removal of their humanity by the medical response to monkeypox.
As a medical and public health community, we are exhausted after Covid-19, and our compassion fatigue is showing in our policies and procedures for monkeypox. The spread of the virus to previously non-endemic countries was only recently declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization. Unlike with Covid-19, this is not a novel virus—we have the appropriate diagnostic testing, treatment, and even vaccines that we need. Yet, just as we have failed to deploy these tools to assist in outbreaks in African nations, we are now also failing our patients from a sexual minority—patients who are already underserved and justifiably mistrusting of a medical system.