Monkeypox is a rare infection most commonly found in west or central Africa.
The virus resurgence was first spotted in the UK earlier this year, and since then it has infected over 35,000 people globally.
Countries accounting for the most monkeypox cases include the United States (5,175 cases), Spain (4,298), Germany (2,677), the United Kingdom (2,546), France (1,955), Brazil (1,369), the Netherlands (879), Canada (803), Portugal (633) and Italy (479).
A lot of monkeypox misinformation is swirling around – one of which is that the virus is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
What are some of the key similarities and differences between monkeypox and a STI?
Is monkeypox an STI?
In short, monkeypox is not an STI – but it can be spread through close contact including sex.
If a person is infected with monkeypox, symptoms will appear between five and 21 days.
Warning signs of monkeypox include:
- A high temperature
- A headache
- Muscle aches
- Swollen glands
- Shivering (chills)
- Joint pain.
A rash will then appear after these symptoms, usually appearing one to five days after the first symptoms.
“The rash often begins on the face, then spreads to other parts of the body,” warned the NHS.
“This can include the mouth, genitals and anus.
“You may also have anal pain or bleeding from your bottom."
The rash is similar and often confused for chickenpox.
“It starts as raised spots, which turn into small blisters filled with fluid eventually forming scabs which later fall off.”
Similarities between monkeypox and STIs
The key factor which makes monkeypox similar to other STIs are the blister-like sores.
Genital herpes, similar to monkeypox, produce these blisters which are found on the genital areas.
Genital warts, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), also produce blisters which may be flesh-coloured and itchy.
Key differences between an STI and monkeypox
One of the biggest differences between monkeypox and other STIs comes down to the way it is spread.
STIs are spread primarily through sexual contact, either vaginal or anal.
Monkeypox, on the other hand, is not.
The virus is spread through skin-to-skin contact, which means a person can catch monkeypox without having sex with them.
Dr Michelle Forcier warns of the stigma monkeypox has as “there’s an idea out there that the virus is only spreading among gay and bisexual men”.
She added: “The monkeypox rumours are harmful because they isolate and seem to ‘blame’ a particular group of persons for spreading this infection.
“Calling the monkeypox virus an STI and linking it to our culture’s view of sex as scary or shameful may keep persons exposed or infected from getting medical attention.”
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