Good morning everyone. My name is Linda Estabrook and I am the Executive Director of the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective. The Health Collective has been a provider of medical and dental services to the LGBTQ community and individuals living with HIV since 1983. I’m here today with Patrick Dunn, Executive Director of the New Haven Pride Center and chair of the Statewide LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network.
I appreciate the attention Monkeypox, hopefully soon to be renamed by the World Health Organization, is getting within the state of Connecticut Department of Public Health and Governor’s office.
The population most affected now is men who have sex with men, also known as MSM. This population includes individuals who identify as gay and bisexual, and those who don’t.
It takes all of us – government, non profit health care providers and community organizations, and individuals in the community to attack Monkeypox from all directions. We need to continue to respond to current and evolving circumstances. We all need to play a role in sharing information as widely as possible. And we all need to play a role to stop the ugliness of stigma and shame and name calling that has already been happening, especially so that it doesn’t escalate.
The Statewide Network has been at the forefront of working with the Department of Public Health to provide information and technical assistance to help them in their efforts to adapt the state’s response to this outbreak. The Network will continue in this role as long as needed.
Having improved access to post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in the form of the Jynneos vaccine is important. A vaccine after a possible exposure helps, but it is not a quick fix or cure-all. Individuals at risk need to continue to pay attention to prevention methods to keep from getting exposed to or getting Monkeypox. These include: refraining from intimate physical activities with others if you’ve had or suspect an exposure, or have unexplained symptoms such as sores or a rash for swollen lymph nodes. You can visit hglhc.org/monkeypox for more information.
Thank you again Governor and Commissioner for stepping up our state’s efforts.