Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president, said that now is the time to get a handle on monkeypox since it is a virus health communities are familiar with, he told NPR Tuesday.
In an interview with All Things Considered host Juana Summers, Fauci, who helped lead the battle against HIV and AIDS, said the federal government must combat any homophobic stigma associated with monkeypox by concentrating on the virus itself, not the people who are infected with it.
"You reach out to the community. You make it very easy for them to have access to testing, to treatment, and to vaccines, as opposed to making it a situation where people are afraid to come forward for those types of things," he said.
There are currently 19,188 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the current outbreak, with 3,591 cases in the U.S, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC said the risk of contracting monkeypox in the U.S. is "believed to be low," but anyone who comes into close contact with an individual carrying the disease is at risk of infection.
The current outbreak is being spread through human-to-human contact. You could develop an infection from droplet respiratory particles by spending too much time face-to-face with a monkeypox carrier, the World Health Organization warned.
"Right now it's focused because it's about 99% among men who have sex with men," Fauci said. "We've got to understand the modality of transmission, the manifestations, also the risk for people like children and pregnant women. There's really a profound risk. Right now, thank goodness we have a report of only two cases in children, but they're all risk populations."