After years of neglect, sexual health clinics are not ready for monkeypox.

Sexual health clinics at the forefront of monkeypox support are already financially expanding, and the United States and the United Kingdom are not equipped to tackle the first major global health test since the COVID-19 pandemic. ..

According to infectious disease experts, sexual health clinics that provide secret carry-on diagnosis and treatment are ideal for identifying and treating cases of monkeypox that have a significant impact on men who have sex with men. ..

However, such programs do so primarily without additional funding, despite years of financial negligence. There is little data on funding global sexual health services, but experts agree that there is a shortage of funding in this sector.

It disrupted the monkeypox response and diverted the scarce resources needed to curb the rate of increase in other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), UK and US sexual health experts told Reuters.

They said this lack of resources could lead to a further epidemic of monkeypox. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), outbreaks have spread to 63 countries.

“This is a gap and weakness in our public health system that monkeypox exposes,” said Dr. Meg Doherty, director of WHO’s Global HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Program, in an email. ..

“Even among high-income countries, funding for global sexual health is declining or remains lacking,” she said.

Monkeypox is transmitted by sexual contact, but the virus can infect people who come into contact with pus-filled pain, fluids, flügge droplets, or contaminated linen.

Clinic staff will have to spend extra time cleaning the office and purchase additional protective equipment. In addition to the chronic staff shortages that have been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, making appointments can be difficult. There is also a shortage of US test equipment.

Monkeypox has been epidemic in parts of Africa for many years, but since early May the virus has spread rapidly in other Among gay and bisexual men, rashes in the genital and anal areas are often confused by doctors with herpes and syphilis. Of the 11,500 confirmed cases worldwide, Reuters aggregates 1,469 in the United States and 1,856 in the United Kingdom. Read the full text

In Spain, with 2,447 cases (the most common in the world), patients are seen in hospitals and clinics. Local health officials said they added additional testing capabilities early in the outbreak and put no pressure on the health system.

Financing cut

According to data from a British charity called the Health Foundation, the UK’s sexual health services budget has been reduced by 14% in the six years to 2022... UK clinics have not yet received new funding to meet the demand for additional monkeypox.

In the United States, funding for sexually transmitted diseases and research is declining as well, said David Harvey, executive director of the National Union of STD Directors (NCSD).

“Monkeypox shed a clear light on this fact. Broadly speaking, the STD sector has been significantly underfunded for 20 to 30 years,” he said to address the outbreak of monkeypox. Harvey said he demanded $ 100 million in funding.

According to NCSD, federal funding for the STD program has been relatively flat for the past two decades, at $ 168.5 million in 2003 and $ 152.5 million in 2022. According to a 2021 US Academy of Sciences and Technology Medicine report, state and local investment is declining, even though STD rates have reached record highs.

According to an NCSD membership survey released on June 12, 42.7% of U.S.-based sexual health clinics have access to appropriate test swabs and less than 20% have access to clinical laboratories. Have a suitable tube for collecting monkeypox specimens.

Due to the limited number of donors and appointments, the clinic should triage patients and prioritize patients with suspected pain, rash, or monkeypox. As a result, asymptomatic patients and those in need of other services remain unconcerned.

Harun Tulunay, 35, an HIV-positive and recently hospitalized monkeypox advocate in London, said that sexual health appointments were delayed or obtained “because he was too busy treating monkeypox.” I know a friend who couldn’t do it.

He is not surprised because he experienced a time-consuming decontamination effort when he was diagnosed.

“We think it’s an overwhelming clinic,” he said. “What happens if 5,000 cases suddenly occur?”

Last week, a coalition of British sexual health / HIV organizations called for urgent financial support, and some clinics reported a dramatic decline in essential services, so they “contained monkeypox” in sexual health services. Asked for £ 51 million ($ 60 million) to “eliminate.”

Part of the problem is that funding for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases is broadly divided, especially in the United States.

“A lot of money has been put into HIV, which is appropriate, but STI was a poor man,” said Matt Golden, director of the HIV / STD Clinic serving Seattle and King County, Washington. The doctor says. His clinic diagnosed half of the monkeypox cases in the area and provided vaccines and treatment guidance.

Experts from both countries agreed that monkeypox is a call for awakening of further investment in sexual health. “It’s time for us to do something,” said Harvey of NCSD. After years of neglect, sexual health clinics are not ready for monkeypox.

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