SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the results of a survey showing that many participating men have are reducing their number of sexual partners to help prevent the spread of the monkeypox virus.

The survey was not conducted by the federal agency; rather, it was conducted by the American Men’s Internet Survey, “an annual cross-sectional online HIV behavioral survey of cisgender gay, bisexual, same gender loving, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) in the United States” that has occurred annually since 2013. The survey has a goal of at least 10,000 complete responses each year.

A 2022 supplemental survey on monkeypox found that 48% of surveyed participants said they’ve reduced the number of their sexual partners to protect themselves and others from monkeypox. Fifty percent reduced one-time sexual encounters, and 49% reported reducing meeting sexual partners via cell phone apps, or at sex venues.

The news comes as more and more people get vaccinated for the virus each day; in the United Kingdom, health officials said the outbreak “shows signs of slowing.” Some health departments, like in Berkeley, have used commercial sex venues as places to get people vaccinated and conduct outreach to those at greater risk. In San Francisco, there have been 614 cases reported as of Friday, 92 of which were within the prior week.

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What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

Symptoms of monkeypox include onset of flu-like symptoms and distinctive rashes or sores that could look like pimples or blisters. CDC statistics show the most commonly-reported symptoms are rash (99%), malaise (70%) and fever (64%).

The CDC stated August 6 that the most common places where rashes have been reported in this outbreak are genitals (46% of cases), arms (40%), face (38%) and legs (37%).

While the red, flat spots which become bumps can be anywhere on the body, they are most likely in the current outbreak to affect the genital or rectal areas, or the fingers, mouth or eyes. The spots become bumps, which break and crust over into a scab. They may be itchy, but not necessarily.

Further, some people only get one or some of these symptoms; it is possible to have a fever but never a rash, or have these symptoms sequentially and not concurrently.

What is the monkeypox vaccine?

The monkeypox virus is in the orthopoxvirus family alongside smallpox, for which routine vaccination in the U.S. ended in 1972 after the disease was declared eradicated here. Jynneos, a vaccine approved for both smallpox and monkeypox, is at least 85% effective against monkeypox, though its effectiveness reduces over time.

Why 100 million vaccines aren’t being used for monkeypox

Getting the vaccine within 14 days of exposure can prevent or mitigate disease risk, as the incubation period can be weeks.

Healthcare providers should test for other infections with similar symptoms, such as syphilis. Tests for monkeypox are confirmed at specialized labs.

Side-effects of the vaccine could include redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, muscle pain, headache, fatigue and nausea.

Who can get a monkeypox infection?

According to CDC statistics released August 6, 99% of cases were in men, and 94% of cases were in men who reported having sex with men. Among those cases, the majority had reported multiple sexual partners in the prior three weeks. A total of ten U.S. cases have been reported in women, according to the CDC, and as of August 3 two pediatric cases have been confirmed. The virus is spread through close skin-on-skin contact and an adviser on sexually transmitted infections with the World Health Organization stated experts have not determined whether it is a sexually transmitted infection per se, though it is “clearly transmitted during sex.”

However, Noel Sanchez of the San Francisco Department of Public Health cautioned that anyone could become infected with the monkeypox virus, and that it doesn’t necessarily require sexual contact to contract it.

“SFDPH takes monkeypox seriously,” Sanchez stated. “While most cases resolve on their own without pills or treatment, monkeypox can be serious. We are trying to contain outbreaks and reduce transmission to avoid the virus spreading to more people and potentially becoming endemic. To that end, we are doing education and outreach to communities most at risk; tracking monkeypox cases; distributing and administering vaccines as a preventative measure to people at high risk because of an exposure; and supporting testing and clinical guidance to providers, among other efforts.”

Sanchez advises people to cover exposed skin in crowds, avoid sharing bedding and clothing, talk with close physical and sexual contacts about health, rashes and sores, and be aware of symptoms.