The World Health Organization has announced that it is working toward renaming the Monkeypox virus out of concern that the current name is “discriminating and stigmatizing.”
On Tuesday, Politico reported that The World Health Organization is planning to rename Monkeypox as “MPOX.” According to Politico, the change comes in response to Biden officials who have been privately urging WHO to change the name and warning that they were ready to adopt the new terminology unilaterally if the international community did not move fast enough.
Politico states that the Biden administration is worried about the stigma the name Monkeypox poses to people of color.
Biden White House reportedly asked W.H.O. to change name of monkeypox because it's 'racist' https://t.co/BCh7Q7rVbp
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) November 24, 2022
In June, a group of scientists wrote a joint statement requesting that the name of the virus be changed because of its “discriminating and stigmatizing” connotation. The letter also cited concerns about the “use of photos of African patients to depict the pox lesions in mainstream media in the global north.” WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris also warned that the name could cause the unwarranted targeting of monkeys.
The name Monkeypox came from the first discovery of the disease in 1958 in a colony of crab-eating macaque monkeys.
In July, the World Health Organization designated Monkeypox a public health emergency, putting it on the same list as six other outbreaks with the same WHO label: Covid-19, Zika, H1N1 flu, polio and Ebola.
Information provided by WHO states that those who contract Monkeypox usually develop a rash or blisters around the palms of the hands and soles of the feet as well as the genital and anal region. Symptoms also may include swollen lymph nodes, headaches, muscle aches, back pain and fatigue.
There have been around 29,200 cases of Monkeypox in the US. It spreads through sexual contact and close contact with droplets and has been largely concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners.
An NBC report notes that the virus has had an impact on the sexual habits of the gay community. In an American Men’s Internet online poll of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, 48% reported reducing their number of sexual partners because of the outbreak.