New York City’s top public health official told the World Health Organization (WHO) to rename monkeypox in a Wednesday letter.
“NYC joins many public health experts and community leaders who have expressed their serious concern about continuing to exclusively use the term ‘monkeypox’ given the stigma it may engender, and the painful and racist history within which terminology like this is rooted for communities of color,” Dr. Ashwin Vasan, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, wrote to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO.
We're calling on @WHO to act immediately to rename the “monkeypox” virus. We have a growing concern for the potentially stigmatizing effects that the messaging around the “monkeypox” virus can have on vulnerable communities. Read our letter: https://t.co/hC6L8o60TH pic.twitter.com/G8CQ9ueaMJ
— Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, MD, PhD (@NYCHealthCommr) July 26, 2022
“Continuing to use the term ‘monkeypox’ to describe the current outbreak may reignite these traumatic feelings of racism and stigma — particularly for Black people and other people of color, as well as members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, and it is possible that they may avoid engaging in vital health care services because of it,” Vasan wrote.
The United States reported 3,591 cases of monkeypox as of Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The disease was first reported in 1958 by researchers using monkeys in research, according to the CDC website. The first human case was in 1970.
A WHO spokesman referred the Daily Caller News Foundation to a Wednesday press briefing.
“There is a process we have intitiated and welcome all proposals as to what the new name might be,” Dr. Rosamun Lewis said during the briefing.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.
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