Ask Kim: Sexual Networks

Dear Kim,

From what I’ve heard about Monkeypox, the majority of folks getting it are gay men. But, I also know it isn’t a disease that only affects gay men. So, why is it spreading especially among gay men?



Dear Wondering,

This is a great question. A lot of the messaging around Monkeypox can be confusing, and sometimes stigmatizing. It’s true – anyone can get monkeypox! But it’s also true that right now, mostly gay men are getting it. Why is that? The answer: sexual networks.

A sexual network is a social group that’s defined by sexual relationships. That is, everyone in the group has had sexual contact with at least one other person in the group. Examples of sexual networks include a local kink community, attendees of a sex party, or a group of friends that has casual sex.

The gay community has a relatively small sexual network. Keep in mind that monkeypox is spread easily by close personal contact, which includes sex. So, if one person in the sexual network gets an illness spread through close contact, you can bet that it will quickly spread through the rest of the network, as well.

Monkeypox is commonly spread through sex, but not always. It can spread through sharing sheets, towels, or clothes; snuggling; hugging and kissing; even holding hands, depending on where the person has a rash. This means it’s likely to spread to other, non-sexual networks eventually.

Some ways to reduce the spread of monkeypox are to get the vaccine if you are eligible; reduce your number of sexual partners; avoid sharing personal items; and have contactless sex, like sexting or masturbating together.

If you have more questions about monkeypox, sexual networks, or sexual health, give us a call at 860-278-4163. We also have lots of monkeypox information on our monkeypox web page.

Be well, be yourself,


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