This page is your one-stop shop for up-to-date answers to your Monkeypox questions. Browse below for frequently asked questions, helpful links, and recent articles.
While monkeypox is affecting a disproportionate amount of gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) as according to CDC, it is important to note that monkeypox is not exclusive to MSM communities. We need to take steps to de-stigmatize and change the current narrative. The public health response to this outbreak of monkeypox should not be allowed to exacerbate homophobia, transphobia, racism and the scapegoating of gay and bisexual men, trans, nonbinary and BIPOC people.
If you think you might have monkeypox or have been exposed to someone with monkeypox, contact a health care provider for recommendations.
- What is monkeypox?
- How is monkeypox transmitted and spread?
- What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
- Who is at risk for monkeypox?
- How do I prevent monkeypox?
- How is monkeypox treated?
- Is there a vaccine available?
- What if I have been exposed to someone with monkeypox?
- What do I do if I am living with HIV and contract monkeypox?
- Where do I find treatment and/or testing in Minnesota?
- Who should I call if I think I might have monkeypox?
- What other resources are out there for me if I have monkeypox?
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, which is in the same family as smallpox, although much less severe. Its name is characterized by the pox illness that occurs upon infection, producing flu-like symptoms and leading to an outbreak of lesions. It was first discovered in 1958. However, as recent as May 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported tracking cases of monkeypox in countries that normally don’t report monkeypox, including the U.S. The virus is usually abbreviated as MPV, but sometimes as MPX or MPXV as well.
How is monkeypox transmitted and spread?
Monkeypox virus can spread when a person comes into contact with the virus from an infected person, animal, or materials contaminated with the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Monkeypox spreads between people primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids. Monkeypox can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to face contact.
- Monkeypox can spread during intimate contact between people, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, cuddling, or touching parts of the body with monkeypox sores.
- Monkeypox can spread through contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
At this time, it is not known if monkeypox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Symptoms may include any of the following:
- Muscle aches
- Back ache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Rash followed by lesions
Not everyone has all these symptoms, so some may only have a rash, and others may not have a rash, but could have the other symptoms. Rash or lesions will typically begin to appear in 1-3 days after the initial fever, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body. Rash or lesions may also appear around the genitals or anus, however, be aware of skin rashes or lesions that be isolated to one part of your body and if you note any unexpected or unexplained changes, see a healthcare provider.
Who is at risk for monkeypox?
Monkeypox appears to be spreading now among some sexual and social networks of gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). However, it is not exclusive to MSM communities. Viruses and bacteria can and do infect anyone regardless of sexual orientation. It is also not a sexually transmitted infection. Instead, it is spread through close contact. Anyone can get monkeypox, including heterosexual people, women, transgender and nonbinary people, and others.
How do I prevent monkeypox?
Avoid skin-to-skin contact. Sharing direct skin-to-skin contact should be limited or avoided when there is a higher likelihood of contracting monkeypox (i.e. at events where people can be expected to have minimal to no clothing and large crowds in enclosed spaces). While monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, it appears to be transmitted at a higher rate through sex, which has a high rate of skin-to-skin contact. Practice avoiding intimate activities if you have flu-like symptoms or have developed any abnormal rashes or lesions on your body.
Practice good handwashing and cleaning of infected surfaces. Continue to practice hand washing with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, especially after encountering a person with monkeypox. Avoid infected surfaces with unwashed materials and objects that have been exposed to direct or intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox.
Mask up. Masks are encouraged to help prevent the spread through respiratory droplets in situations with face-to-face contact.
Isolate. Quarantine yourself from others if you have become exposed to or infected with monkeypox. Avoid contact with those who have the infection.
Talk with your health care provider. Health officials recommend talking to your healthcare provider about getting the smallpox vaccine within 2 weeks of exposure to someone diagnosed with monkeypox.
How is monkeypox treated?
There is no specific treatment for monkeypox, although treatment with an antiviral may be beneficial for some individuals. Persons who are immunocompromised, who are pregnant, who have other health conditions, and pediatric patients may be at risk of severe disease.
Is there a vaccine available?
While there are two vaccines available in the U.S. to prevent MPX, there is very little supply in Minnesota. To best reach people who are at highest risk of MPX, the MN Department of Health is working with a few local public health departments and health care providers that already care for people at highest risk for MPX disease to vaccinate their patients. Learn more about this at Monkeypox Vaccine in Minnesota.
What if I have been exposed to someone with monkeypox?
People who have been exposed to monkeypox should monitor for symptoms for 21 days after exposure. If you don’t develop symptoms but had close contact with someone with monkeypox, you can go about your usual activities. If symptoms do develop, you should immediately self-isolate and contact your health provider for further recommendations. While self-isolating, you should use masks and gloves during interactions, practice good hand washing, and take care when handling laundry or soiled clothing. Avoiding close physical contact with family, pets, and sexual partners is also recommended. For a more detailed list of systems to monitor, and/or if you are a health care provider looking for information on monitoring persons exposed, visit CDC’s website.
What do I do if I am living with HIV and contract monkeypox?
It is currently not known whether having HIV affects a person’s risk for acquiring monkeypox. MSM living with HIV are disproportionately represented among monkeypox cases. ART and opportunistic prophylaxis should be continued in all persons living with HIV who acquire monkeypox. Treatment interruption might lead to a more complicated management of monkeypox, including worsening illness severity. Persons living and not living with HIV should follow the same preventative measures to protect themselves from monkeypox. If you think you might have monkeypox or have been exposed to someone with monkeypox, contact your health care provider for recommendations. For more information on this topic, visit the CDC’s website.
Where do I find treatment and/or testing in Minnesota?
While monkeypox does not fit the traditional definition of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), rashes may resemble STIs or appear in similar regions of the body as syphilis or herpes. Consult with a health care provider for testing.
Free or low-cost STI testing sites:
- Red Door Clinic/ Hennepin County Public Health
525 Portland Avenue South, Minneapolis MN
- Clinic 555 / Ramsey County Public Health
555 Cedar Street, St. Paul MN
- Directory of Family Planning Services
Listing of publicly funded programs throughout Minnesota.
- Minnesota Family Planning and STD Hotline
Toll-free hotline for confidential information about the prevention, testing locations and treatment of STDs in Minnesota: 1-800-78-FACTS.
Who should I call if I think I might have monkeypox?
If you think you have monkeypox, contact your healthcare provider, MN Department of Health Infectious Disease Hotline at 651-201-5414 or the Minnesota Family Planning and STD Hotline at 1-800-78-Facts.
What other resources are out there for me if I have monkeypox?
If you have monkeypox and are looking for assistance with food, clothes, finance, or other supplies, contact your county essential resources helpline. Anyone who doesn’t know their county’s essential services helpline can call the MDH Infectious Disease Hotline at 651-201-5414 to be connected to essential services in their county.
- Hennepin County essential services helpline: 612-348-3000
- Ramsey County essential services helpline: 651-266-8500.
- Rainbow Health: Monkeypox Fact Sheet
- The Fenway Institute: Monkeypox & Gay & Bisexual Men Fact Sheet
- HRC Foundation: Monkeypox & What You Need to Know
- CDC Website: Monkeypox
- Equitas Health: Monkeypox
- UMN: CIDRAP Monkeypox Center
- GLAAD: Factsheet for Reporters on MPV & the LGBTQ Community
- Reducing Stigma in Monkeypox Communication & Community Engagement
- CDC: Interim Guidance for Prevention and Treatment of MPX in Persons with HIV
- A Patient's Guide to TPOXX Access
- National Health Care for the Homeless Council: MPX and People Experiencing Homelessness
- CDC: MPX & Safer Sex Fact Sheet
- Fenway Institute: How the Federal Government Can Better Respond to MPX
- MPX Vaccine Locator
- So You Got MPX
- Asi que tienes viruela simica
- 6 Ways We Can Have Safer Sex in the Time of MPX
Monkeypox in the News
World Health Organization to rename monkeypox as mpox
The World Health Organization said Monday that it would begin referring to monkeypox as mpox in an effort to reduce stigma around the virus. Both names will be used simultaneously for a year while moneypox is phased out. The new name was chosen after the WHO launched a public consultation process earlier this year.
With Support on MPX Hard to Come by, Queer Communities Turn to One Another
Monkeypox is now a national public health emergency with around 9,500 cases in the U.S., mainly among men who have sex with men, as well as some small number of nonbinary and trans people. But since the start of the outbreak in the U.S. earlier this spring, messaging and outreach to at-risk groups has been inconsistent, and resources like vaccinations and treatment are still sparse.