Monkeypox (MPXV) Information for our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Sistergirl and Brotherboy communities 

Monkeypox (also known as MPXV) is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people.

Monkeypox isn’t an STI, but it can be transmitted when you are hooking up, so it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms if you are attending dance parties, sex parties, saunas or find yourself in other fun places.

The situation with MPXV is changing rapidly and we’re still learning about this infection. There is an outbreak of monkeypox in Queensland via local community transmission. 

We are continuing to monitor developments and will provide updates to our communities as the situation evolves.  

FAQ: Frequently asked questions about Monkeypox

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people and is usually associated with travel to Central or West Africa, where it is endemic.

Cases of monkeypox have been identified in several non-endemic countries, including Australia and several European countries and the United States. We also have an outbreak of monkeypox in Queensland via local community transmission. 

It typically begins with influenza-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes, then progresses to a widespread rash on the face and body.

MPXV is usually a self-limited disease with the symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks. Severe cases can occur.

 

What are the symptoms of monkeypox?

The incubation period (the time from infection to the onset of symptoms) of MPXV is usually 1-2 weeks days but can be up to 21 days.

Symptoms include a fever, headache, muscle aches, low energy, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash or lesions (these are similar to COVID or the flu).

The rash usually begins within one to three days of the start of a fever, and tends to be more concentrated on the face, arms and legs. It can also be found on the mouth, genitals and eyes.

How is monkeypox transmitted?

Monkeypox is transmitted through close physical contact with someone who has symptoms.

The rash, bodily fluids (such as fluid, pus or blood from skin lesions) and scabs are particularly infectious. Ulcers, lesions or sores in the mouth can also be infectious, meaning the virus can spread through saliva.

Clothing, linens or objects that have come into contact with a person who has monkeypox can also infect others.

Monkeypox has not been previously described as a sexually transmitted infection but it can spread in sexual networks through direct contact during sex or clothing and bedding used by someone with monkeypox.

 

How is monkeypox treated?

Most people with MPXV have a mild self-limiting illness and recover within a few weeks without specific treatment.

There are some therapies available for the treatment of MPXV, particularly for people at high-risk such as those who are immunosuppressed.

Because MPXV is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, the smallpox vaccine can protect people from getting MPXV. Vaccines may be indicated in persons at greatest risk of getting MPXV.

 

Am I at greater risk if I’m HIV-positive?

There is very limited evidence on MPXV in people living with HIV, and most is based on research in countries where access to treatment is low, and experience far negative health outcomes than in Australia.

At the moment people living with HIV should follow the same advice as the general population.

Should evidence emerge that people with supressed immune systems are at greater risk of MPXV, or ill-health from catching the virus, then updated information and advice will be made available.

Why are cases of monkeypox being detected among gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men?

A large number of cases detected overseas are among gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men. One reason for this is the active health seeking behaviour of gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men around sexual health. Because MPXV rashes can resemble some STIs, such as herpes or syphilis, cases are being detected in sexual health clinics around the world.

It’s important to note that the risk of MPXV is not limited to gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men. Anyone who has close contact with someone who is infectious is at risk.

Anyone can get or pass on MPXV regardless of their sexuality.

If you have recently returned from overseas.

People who have recently returned from overseas, especially in Europe - and who develop any of these symptoms, particularly an unusual rash, should seek medical advice immediately.

 

Call your GP or local sexual health clinic by phone or telehealth.

You can also call 13 Health (13 43 25 84).

Remember: do not attend a health service in the first instance – be sure to call first.

 

If you are planning to travel overseas

If you are planning to travel overseas, it is important to stay informed and remain aware of developments. The situation with MPXV is changing rapidly.

· Follow public health alerts and advice from local health authorities of the countries you are visiting

· If visiting festivals or large events, stay abreast of event updates (before and after) from organisers.

You can reduce your risk of contracting MPXV by:

· Avoiding contact, including sexual contact, with people who are unwell or have compatible symptoms

· Avoid skin-to-skin contact, particularly with any rash or lesions

· Avoid contact with clothing, bedding or objects that have been in contact with or used by people with MPXV

· As always, practice good hygiene, self-isolate if unwell and seek medical attention if you develop any symptoms

We are continuing to monitor developments and will provide updates to our communities as the situation evolves.

Are monkeypox vaccinations available in Queensland?

Currently availability of monkeypox vaccination is in very limited supply. A substantial supply is expected within October 2022 (date unknown).

 

For up to date information in this evolving space, please visit our website www.qc.org.au/mpxv

Where can I get more information?

Here are some sources of information:

https://www.aconhealth.org.au/monkeypox

https://www.who.int/health-topics/monkeypox 

http://conditions.health.qld.gov.au/HealthCondition/condition/14/217/850/monkeypox

https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/monkeypox-mpx

This has been put together by our team at the Queensland Council for LGBTI Health, informed in this evolving space by our health professional allies and Queensland Health.

To get in touch with us please email info@qc.org.au or call (07) 3017 1777.