Durban - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has condemned homophobic comments made on the back of a confirmation that South Africa had recorded its first case of monkeypox.
On Thursday, the National Health Minister confirmed that a Johannesburg man had tested positive for monkeypox.
“We unequivocally condemn any form of prejudice, and any hateful and discriminatory comments toward any individuals/groups on our social media platforms,” the Institute said in a post on Facebook.
“Sadly, we have noted undue bigotry and misinformation concerning the LGBTQI+ community. We distance ourselves from these comments, and through moderating our social media platforms will remove any such individuals or groups participating in hateful speech.
“Please be aware that the information shared about monkeypox was to provide epidemiological context for the current multi-national outbreak. It was by no means to profile any members of society. We would like to stress that any persons, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can acquire monkeypox if they have had close contact with someone infected with the virus,” the Institute said.
The NICD explained that even though it is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (i.e. it doesn’t spread only through contact with bodily fluids, but rather through contact with the skin rash), monkeypox can spread during intimate physical contact between people. This contact can happen when you have oral, anal, vaginal sex or touching the genital or anus of a person with monkeypox.
According to the NICD, monkeypox is a rare viral infection that is harboured by certain animals, most likely certain species of rodents in deep forested areas of some countries in the western and central Africa region.
Occasionally, the virus may spill over from the infected animals to humans. There is no risk of monkeypox virus infection from animals in South Africa. Once, a person was infected by an animal, person-to-person transmission may then occur through very close contact.