HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Monkeypox cases, and the number of vaccines given, continue to grow in Connecticut. All cases are men and most identify as LGBTQ+. The state held a media zoom on Thursday with one of the state’s first men diagnosed, and addressed some gay stigma issues.
Today Connecticut’s CDC monkeypox designation is now a medium shade of blue with 54 cases. A Connecticut map from August 8th from the Department of Public Health shows diagnosed cases are in each Connecticut county, with most in New Haven, Fairfield and Hartford counties respectively.
It shows median age of 34. 56% white and 32% Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. All are men, with the majority identifying as LGBTQ+.
Johnny Rivera was one of the first diagnosed cases of monkeypox in Connecticut. His symptoms started with abdominal cramps and intestinal issues Then, a lesion and cold symptoms began before he got very sick.
Rivera now wants to educate others through traditional media and social media.
“I feel like monkeypox isn’t being taken seriously enough,” Rivera said. “We have to speak to the gay community because it’s in the gay community right now, and this is not to shame anyone or judge anyone. I contracted my case from a Grindr hook-up. A repeat grinder hook-up.”
He wanted to advise caution because he said only a portion of the gay community is eligible for a monkeypox vaccine right now.
“They don’t know their partner’s sexual history in the last three weeks, how many people that they’ve been with,” Rivera said.
Dante Gennarro is with the Department of Public Health and realizes requesting abstinence is not always realistic.
“Getting vaccinated has been proven to be an effective measure to reduce the symptoms,” Gennarro said. “It doesn’t prevent anyone from getting monkeypox, let’s just make sure that’s clear.”
“We need to have conversations about ways of increasing protections and bringing awareness so that people can make decisions, well-informed decisions, and not feel like they’re caught off guard,” he added.
According to health officials, Connecticut’s monkeypox vaccine supply is strong, with 3,500 doses available at 20 locations around the state. Already around 700 doses have been administered.