Vaccination guidelines for monkeypox may be expanded by U.S. authorities to include many males with HIV or those who have recently been diagnosed with other sexually transmitted diseases.
A study published on Thursday that reveals a higher-than-expected proportion of monkeypox infections occur in persons with other sexually transmitted infections is what’s sparking the conversation.
The report is a “call to action,” according to Dr. John T. Brooks, chief medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s response to the monkeypox outbreak.
According to Brooks, who spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday, “the White House and CDC are working on a plan for what that will look like,” it is expected that vaccine recommendations will grow.
The CDC currently advises vaccination for those who have close contact with someone who has monkeypox, who are aware that a sexual partner has been diagnosed within the last two weeks, and gay or bisexual men who have had multiple partners within the past two weeks in an area where the virus has been known to spread.
Health care professionals at high exposure risk are also advised to get shots.
Men who engage in sex with other men and report close contact with an infected person while engaged in sex make up the vast majority of monkeypox cases. However, the new CDC analysis made the case that infections among those who have HIV and other STDs may be a bigger problem than previously thought.
The study examined nearly 2,000 cases of monkeypox from four states and four cities between mid-May and late-July.
Compared to the community of men who have sex with men, it was discovered that 38% of those with monkeypox infections had been diagnosed with HIV.
The study also discovered that 41% of people who had monkeypox had received an STD diagnosis the year before. Additionally, 10% of those patients had received a diagnosis of three or more STDs in the year prior.
Racial differences existed. Compared to 41% of Hispanics, 28% of Whites, and 22% of Asians, more than 60% of Black Americans with monkeypox also had HIV.
According to Jason Farley, an infectious disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, men of colour who engage in male sexual activity should have monkeypox vaccinations first. The next priority within those racial and cultural groups should be anyone who has HIV or has just received an STD diagnosis, he said.
The data may not be nationally representative, among the study’s many limitations, according to the authors.
According to Brooks, the findings may result in the recommendation of vaccines for those who have recently had an STD infection, those who have HIV, those taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs to prevent HIV infection, and possibly prostitutes.
The availability of the two-dose vaccine will need to be taken into consideration when talking about extending eligibility. According to health officials, any significant increase of the recommended vaccination schedule against monkeypox may also be subject to review by the CDC’s independent vaccine consultants.
Additionally on Thursday, the CDC informed state and local health agencies via letter that monkeypox prevention can now be paid for with federal monies formerly allocated for HIV and STD prevention. According to officials, there are fewer cases in the United States.