News Release

Implications of the Monkeypox Outbreak 


Steven Thrasher’s book, The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide, was published earlier this month. Thrasher spoke with the Institute for Public Accuracy this week about how the current spread of monkeypox is relevant to the book’s themes. 

STEVEN THRASHER; contact via form at 
    Thrasher is a professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a faculty member of Northwestern’s Institute of Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. 

Thrasher told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “The monkeypox epidemic is, unfortunately, a perfect example of the dynamics The Viral Underclass explains and predicts. The book is about how the pathogens are somewhat interchangeable––yet the viral underclass gets hit regardless. Of course, MPX [monkeypox] shares characteristics with HIV in terms of its effect on men who have sex with men, especially Black men. 

    “The only new dynamic MPX has raised for me is this is the second time––Covid was the first––that rich countries have been hit the hardest. The United States is about 4 percent of the world’s population, but it has had between 20 and 25 percent of the world’s Covid cases, has usually averaged about 20 percent of Covid deaths, and currently has 35 percent of MPX cases. These viruses are still pooling within the viral underclass of the United States. But prior to these last two viruses, pandemics used to pool more in poorer countries. Now, they’re pooling among the poor people inside of the richest countries in Europe and North America.”

Thrasher has been excited, however, by how “courageously” queer organizations have stepped in to fill the vacuum left by the Biden administration. “Sex clubs, sex parties, and queer groups,” Thrasher noted, “have engaged in fewer sexual events and turned their efforts to educating their communities, helping people get vaccinated and protesting for more resources. It’s helped a lot. There are sex parties that have done more to curb this outbreak than most members of Congress.”

Early this month on Democracy Now, Thrasher highlighted the historical thrulines between the HIV, Covid-19 and monkeypox outbreaks in the U.S. “With Covid, LGBTQ people were more likely to get sick, more likely to die of Covid. And that’s not because there’s any sort of sexual component to Covid; it’s because LGBTQ people are structurally lower-class….  We’re more likely to lose our jobs. We’re less likely to have salaried jobs. We’re less likely to have health insurance. And so all of those things make our bodies vulnerable in such a way that viruses have an easier time getting into them. Particularly, anti-trans laws and anti-trans practices make it difficult for people who are trans to get the healthcare that they need, in general, and the healthcare they need around viruses, specifically, much more difficult. And then we become a much easier point of entry and reproduction for viruses.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Lily Meyersohn, (917) 456-2758

August 24, 2022

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