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Europe’s monkeypox outbreak sparks fears of anti-LGBTQ+ backlash

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When Louis, a 29-year-old gay man, realised he had caught something “nasty”, the doctor initially thought it was herpes. His symptoms started with a rash, followed by a high temperature and blisters on his face. “I was warning any guys I’d had contact with, ‘Be careful – I’ve got something that’s weird’,” Louis, who asked not to use his real name to protect his identity, said by phone. “I called the doctor again and that time he said it was monkeypox.” Louis, who is French and lives in Berlin, is one of more than 1,500 people across 25 European countries who have been affected by the first large-scale outbreak of the viral disease outside of endemic countries in West and Central Africa.

So far, most cases have involved gay and bisexual men, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), though it has been emphasised that anyone can contract the virus through prolonged close contact or from particles on items such as bedding or towels.

Evidence of monkeypox has also been detected in semen among a handful of cases in Italy, with scientists now investigating whether sexual transmission is a possibility.

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