“If you haven’t lived through it, you have no idea the kind of pain that this is”

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Just a week after the US declared monkeypox a public health emergency, gay men in the country have come out to share their stories.

 

The first US monkeypox case this year was detected on 18 May in the state of Massachusetts. Since then, more than 10,000 cases have been reported across the country, in every state except Wyoming.

Although anybody can contract the virus through direct contact with an infected person or surface, gay men account for the vast majority of cases.

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On a private daily Zoom call, adult gay men who have contracted monkeypox have now come out to share their frustrations over trying to get tested or treated but being turned away by healthcare professionals.

They gave tips on how to manage the pain which gets worse with each new blister on the body and leaves one unable to do anything.

 

“It’s a very traumatic experience,” said Jeffrey Galaise, who hosts the Zoom meetings. “I’m a different person having been through this.”

 

 

 

“If you haven’t lived through it, you have no idea the kind of pain that this is, and the red tape that’s attached to trying to get help and support.”

Galaise from New York aged 41, began feeling sick on the day he was supposed to get his vaccine.

Currently on day 25 of the illness, he has experienced practically every symptom, from the lesions and swollen lymph nodes to an extended high fever.

 Galaise also claims that information on how to treat the virus after you’ve got it is still sparse.

“People are really suffering and nobody knows what to do,” he said.

 

 

Silver Steele, a pornstar from Texas, said his monkeypox ordeal lasted nearly a month. Lesions developed all around his mouth, making eating difficult, and he lost some 13Ibs (5.8kg) in weight.

Aside from taking an oral anti-viral drug known as Tpoxx, which has been in short supply, “all you can really do is pain management”, he said.

Yet the 42-year-old considers himself lucky, as he has heard “horror stories” from other patients – about anal lesions that make them feel like they are excreting needles and penile lesions that become bacterial infections of their own.

 

“Even though my face looked really disfigured, I didn’t have anything below the waist,” he said.

 

“I will gladly take it on the lip for the world to see as long as I don’t have to deal with any of that garbage.”

US Public health experts have been unable to explain why this monkey pox outbreak has affected mostly gay and bisexual men but many believe it shares similarities with how the gay community felt abandoned during the AIDS crisis of the 1970s and 80s.

 

“There’s a lot of layered issues that have come up that are very heavy,” said Galaise of his Zoom conversations.

“You have people who lived through AIDS suffering from PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], people that are in extended isolation for 25 to 30 days, people dealing with stigma from their community.” he added

 

Silver Steele, the sex worker, documented his illness daily on social media.

“So many people just look at what we’re going through and think ‘oh look, its HIV part two.”

“I noticed the emergency was declared after some children tested positive,” he continued.

“It wasn’t an emergency while it was just the gay guys.”

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