According to a report from Breitbart News, one New York City health official is calling on the World Health Organization to rename the monkeypox virus over the name’s potentially damaging effects on vulnerable communities.
Nearly 1,100 New York City residents have tested positive for the virus, also known as “Orthopoxvirus.”
In a letter sent to W.H.O. Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan asks for assistance in developing an alternative name to permanently replace “monkeypox.”
“NYC joins many public health experts and community leaders who have expressed their serious concern about continuing to exclusively use the term ‘monkeypox’ given the stigma it may engender, and the painful and racist history within which terminology like this is rooted for communities of color,” Vasan writes. “‘Monkeypox’ is a misnomer, as the virus does not originate in monkeys and was only classified as such due to an infection seen in research primates. And we know alternative terminology is possible and entities are starting to use terms such as ‘hMPXV’ and ‘MPV.’ We need leadership from the WHO to ensure consistency in naming and to reduce confusion to the public.”
“Continuing to use the term ‘monkeypox’ to describe the current outbreak may reignite these traumatic feelings of racism and stigma — particularly for Black people and other people of color, as well as members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, and it is possible that they may avoid engaging in vital health care services because of it,” he continues.
Vasan shared the letter on Twitter, along with a message:
“We’re calling on @WHO to act immediately to rename the ‘monkeypox’ virus. We have a growing concern for the potentially stigmatizing effects that the messaging around the ‘monkeypox’ virus can have on vulnerable communities.”
Vasan’s message and letter below:
We’re calling on @WHO to act immediately to rename the “monkeypox” virus. We have a growing concern for the potentially stigmatizing effects that the messaging around the “monkeypox” virus can have on vulnerable communities. Read our letter: https://t.co/hC6L8o60TH pic.twitter.com/G8CQ9ueaMJ
— Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, MD, PhD (@NYCHealthCommr) July 26, 2022