Black men in Georgia have been disproportionately affected by monkeypox, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. New data from the Georgia Department of Public Health from weeks ago didn’t foresee this disparity. However, Black people saw it coming.
The circumstances in which Black people couldn’t get vaccinated, tested or receive proper care for with COVID-19 are nearly identical to what we’re seeing with monkeypox. CNN reported earlier this month that Black and Hispanic men who were in recent sexual contact with another man made up 54 percent of the initial cases submitted to the CDC. In recent weeks, it’s only grown more but now, across the rest of the community.
“A few weeks ago when this was circulating in Europe, this wasn’t even being talked about in our communities of color. And I think there was an initial perception that this was in, largely white communities and white, gay and MSM (men having sex with men) communities,” said Dr. Jonathan Colasanti, medical director of Grady Memorial Hospital’s Ponce De Leon Center, to AJC.
More on Georgia’s monkeypox cases from AJC:
By Wednesday, confirmed cases in Georgia had climbed to 749 and includes eight women, according to DPH. The actual number is likely far higher.
Data from DPH, available for 74% of the cases, shows this racial breakdown: 82% Black people, 14% white, under 1% Asian; multiracial and “other” accounted for a total of about 3%. The total includes 6% Hispanic people.
In Georgia, the overwhelming majority of cases are in metro Atlanta, but cases have been diagnosed in 25 counties outside metro Atlanta. Nearly 99% of the cases are among men, and the majority of the cases are among men who have sex with men, according to DPH. The age range is 18 to 66, with a median age of 34.
“We see that kind of disparity across all health outcomes when it comes to African Americans. Health equity is just not there. It’s because we don’t access services for a myriad of reasons, we’re distrusting of the health community. So, even with the vaccinations, there are people who are undecided,” said Nathan Townsend, manager of prevention services for NAESM, an organization advocating for Black gay health, via AJC.
It comes as no surprise that the racism in the healthcare system leads to data like we’re seeing here. Particularly, lack of proper Black LGBTQ+ care is the reason why Black gay men are hurting the most from this virus. On the other hand, the resources may be there but because of disparities within the LGBTQ+ community, they are inaccessible.
“When the White gays are no longer paying attention to it, they move along because they got theirs. The attention has moved along, the resources moved along,” said Matthew Rose, an HIV activist in D.C. to The Washington Post.
This is a perfect time for the health agencies to get it right when it comes to providing care and resources to marginalized communities. Without addressing the discrimination, more lives will be at risk.