New York City Health Department Begs WHO to Rename Monkeypox Because It Stigmatizes Gay People

Alain Jocard, Pool via AP

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has written a letter to the World Health Organization asking it to change the name of the disease “monkeypox” because it “stigmatizes” gay men.


The department may have a point. A recent New England Journal of Medicine paper concluded that 95% of monkeypox transmissions occurred “during sex between men.”

Shouldn’t the New York City health department concentrate on stopping the spread of this disease instead of worrying whether the name of the disease might offend some easily-offended group?

Spectator World columnist Cockburn wonders if the names “Black Plague” and “Yellow Fever” should be renamed for insinuating racism.


I write to urge you to act immediately on renaming the ‘monkeypox’ virus as the WHO stated they would do during a June 14th press briefing, over 5 weeks ago,” wrote the 44th Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, Ashwin Vasan, in a letter to the WHO’s Director General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus.

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,” Vasan continued in the letter.


Has there ever been any evidence of “trauma” associated with the name of a disease? If you tell a guy he has syphilis, that’s pretty traumatic, but no one is advocating we change “syphilis” to something benign like “strawberry ice cream.”

Vasan asserted that continued use of the term “monkeypox” could ignite “traumatic feelings of racism and stigma,” especially among people of color and members of the LGBT community. He feared that, as a result of this potential stigma, people from these groups may choose to avoid obtaining critical healthcare services down the road.

Ghebreyesus announced last month that the organization is “working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes,” adding that the WHO would make an announcement on the potential change as soon as possible.

The pledge came after 30 scientists from around the globe urged the health community to change the virus’s name.

Cockburn makes a valid point.

If one group is disproportionately affected, the loving thing to do is to warn them properly — not to sweep it under the rug so as not to offend the woke lobby on behalf of a different group.

Instead of playing PC police, Cockburn thinks the NYC Department of Health should focus on its mission of tending to the largest outbreak of the virus in the nation.


This is not about “love,” “health,” or anything except the desire to show other doctors, researchers, and scientists how woke you can be. Being hypersensitive on an issue that doesn’t require it is costing lives that might be saved if health experts cared more about the health of their patients than about how they looked to other woke health professionals.



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