Lesions, Headaches, Debilitating Pain: Gay Men With Monkeypox Share Their Stories

Men who have sex with men comprise the vast majority of monkeypox cases in this unprecedented outbreak. Eighteen of them talked to NBC News about their experiences

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Even as COVID-19 restrictions have loosened, for many gay men, an uninvited guest called monkeypox has threatened to spoil long-anticipated festivities.

Of the nearly 7,000 confirmed monkeypox cases in the global outbreak, the vast majority have occurred among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, or MSM, various health authorities report. Skin-to-skin contact during sex, experts assert, has likely been the primary driver of the virus’s global spread thus far. 

Symptoms take 7-14 days to show, but can take up to 21 days to show

Epidemiologists have stressed that monkeypox can still transmit among other groups of people, although the risk to non-MSM at this time does remain low

Monkeypox is a rare virus first discovered in 1958.

Monkeypox has tended to present relatively mildly during this outbreak and has caused no deaths outside of the 11 African nations in which the virus has become endemic since it was discovered in 1970. Nevertheless, 18 gay men who contracted monkeypox told NBC News how it can cause unsightly and in some cases debilitatingly painful skin lesions — and has left them stuck glumly inside.

Read their stories here on

We already have vaccines and treatments approved for monkeypox
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