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Jonathan Van Ness is sharing his thoughts on the US government’s “failed response” to the monkeypox outbreak.
In a tip TIME essay published on Monday, the 35-year-old strange eye star recalled the moment the nation reported its first official case in May, and called out the government’s reaction.
“To see the government’s failed response to monkeypox has been surreal and in many ways I think it’s been fueled by homophobia and transphobia,” he said, adding: “When an outbreak mainly affects men who have sex with men, some of our elected legislators will have no incentive to act. He thinks he won’t touch his constituents, which is obviously messed up because people’s lives are at stake and there are queer people in all 50 states “.
The reality of the virus hit home for Van Ness when a friend was forced to cancel a trip to New Orleans, where Van Ness is recording strange eye, after being exposed to monkey pox.
“I started calling all the political contacts I have, sounding the alarm about how quickly cases were increasing and asking officials to take the virus more seriously.”
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Comparing the government’s reaction to monkeypox to the authorities’ slow response to the AIDS epidemic, Van Ness said he is “disappointed” with the politicians who were in office then and now “like President “. [Joe] Biden and speaker [Nancy] Pelosi.”
“Once again, we are seeing little action being taken until the situation has spiraled out of control. If nothing changes, we will continue to experience failures like this response, which has been plagued by little evidence, lack of access to treatments. , inadequate supply of vaccines and ambiguous guidance,” he said.
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Van Ness then asked officials not to take “more proactive steps” to roll out a readily available vaccine after cases “started to increase in June.”
“Why haven’t we seen this administration prioritize the rapid procurement of monkeypox vaccines?” he asked, noting how, like at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, many seem to regard – and dismiss – the virus as something that only affects the LGBTQ+ community.
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The star noted that monkeypox being declared a public health emergency “was a step in the right direction, but it was a day late and a dollar short” before sharing a joke he often tells during his stand-up shows.
“It’s been really funny to see straight people being shocked by the government’s response during COVID-19, because we’re like, ‘Dude, it’s Tuesday,'” said Van Ness, who discovered he was HIV positive 10 years ago. . “Did you think the government would come to your aid?’ We are used to this kind of inaction. Monkeypox is like: same day, different virus.”
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The star added: “I think tragedy, hope, despair and resilience can live side by side. But we have to act.”
Van Ness said that “everyone should be concerned about monkeypox” even if they aren’t directly affected by it, “because we have to worry about each other,” Van Ness left fans with a reminder that other diseases, such as HIV, still exist, along with the stereotypes surrounding them and the limits of adequate health care.
“This is not just a story of monkey pox. This is a story of how we consistently fail people on the margins. We have to be brave about what we are willing to witness, and no one should have been willing to witness the spread of this outbreak. over the past two months,” he wrote.