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New York asks WHO to re-name monkeypox; “continuing using the term may reignite these traumatic feelings of racism and stigma”

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New York asks WHO to re-name monkeypox; “continuing using the term may reignite these traumatic feelings of racism and stigma"
Red and yellow danger road sign with virus and and text: ‘MONKEYPOX’, with the sky in the background. Concept of road sign, pandemic, virus, epidemic, Nigeria, smallpox and monkey

New York City asked the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday to rename the monkeypox virus to avoid stigmatizing patients.

“We have a growing concern for the potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects that the messaging around the ‘monkeypox’ virus can have on… already vulnerable communities,” New York City public health commissioner Ashwin Vasan said in a letter to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus dated Tuesday.

“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 colour, 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,” Ashwin Vasan said.

Vasan referenced the “painful and racist history within which terminology like (monkeypox) is rooted for communities of colour.”

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