Two More Ways the FDA and CDC are Screwing Up Monkeypox
Despite some flak it's taken (including from me), the NYC Department of Health has made some notably good choices the feds should copy.
I realize that most of you are straight and probably don’t think about monkeypox as much as I do. And that’s fine, because as I’ve said before, I don’t think straight people need to worry that much about monkeypox itself. While it can spread through non-sexual contact — and that’s why we’re seeing a small number of cases in people, including children, who wouldn’t seem to have significant risk factors — we are not so far seeing signs that this outbreak can sustain and grow itself, with a reproductive number greater than 1, through channels other than sex among men.
I write about monkeypox in part because I think a lot of the messaging to gay men is insufficiently forthright, but I also write about it because I think straight people should observe how badly the CDC and the FDA are screwing things up, often in ways that reprise how they have erred with COVID. These agencies continue to perform poorly, they are still arrogant, they have not learned their lessons, and god help us all if there’s a future epidemic that more closely resembles smallpox.
Today, I want to talk about two key monkeypox errors by federal agencies: One on messaging, and one on vaccine dosing.
Positive vs. normative. When a waiter brings you a plate of sizzling fajitas, what does he say? It’s not usually “don’t touch the plate,” right? It’s “this plate is very hot.” You, an adult, understand the implication: You may be unhappy if you touch the plate.
I bring this up because, about two weeks ago, The New York Times reported on an internal debate within the New York City Department of Health about what guidance to give about monkeypox and gay sex. Basically: Should public health authorities tell gay men to have fewer sex partners, or even to avoid casual sex altogether when cases are increasing? Or is that counterproductive or stigmatizing?