The following is a guest contribution and reflects the author’s views alone. For information on how to submit to the Opinion Section, click here.
This contribution was initially sent to the listserv of the Gender + Sexuality Resource Center. It has been edited for style.
As you are undoubtedly aware, monkeypox (MPX) has had a direct impact on queer and trans (QT) communities in our region and around the world, yet this virus is indiscriminate. At present, in the United States, we are seeing higher rates of MPX exposure among cisgender gay, queer or bi men who have sex with men (MSM), trans women, and sex workers of all genders.
For this reason, several students have reached out to the Gender + Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) to express their concern about how the University community will respond to the potential impact of MPX on our campus, and the ways that fear and misinformation can foster bias and discrimination. I shared your concern, and I first wish to reiterate that MPX is not a QT virus or a sexually transmitted infection (STI), it is a virus that is spread through close and prolonged skin-to-skin contact.
In recent weeks, I have been in close conversation with University Health Services (UHS), Environmental Health Services (EHS) and other campus leaders to make sure that the University community is prepared to support and care for students who may be exposed to the virus. I have been assured that the medical staff in UHS are prepared to diagnose MPX, to provide care for those students who may contract the virus, and to do so in a compassionate and destigmatized way. You can learn about updated information and resources on their website.
I have also been assured that they will work to update resources and information about strategies to mitigate the impact of MPX on campus. For example, you may have read in the recent university message that you can visit this UHS MPX webpage for updated University and public health guidance. Use that guidance to learn how to get vaccinated if you believe you are someone who is at higher risk of exposure.
If you need access to care after exposure please contact UHS at (609) 258-3141, or find updated information about vaccine availability in the community via the New Jersey Department of Health. I am also happy to connect with students about my own experiences getting vaccinated in the community. If you’d like to talk to a GSRC staff member about your experience, please reach out. And if you’d like to seek out counseling as we navigate our mitigation strategies, please contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS).
Together we will get through this — our community is a resilient one.
Kristopher Oliveira is the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and Director of the Gender + Sexuality Resource Center.