By Black Press USA

NNPA NEWSWIRE – The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced plans to find a new name for the viral disease informally known as ‘monkeypox,’ which the world body says is “discriminatory and stigmatizing.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a briefing on the matter, said the virus is no longer behaving as it did in the past and therefore should be renamed. But a public narrative persists in suggesting the current outbreak is linked to Africa, West Africa, or Nigeria, noted a group of 29 biologists and other researchers. That builds on an existing stigma, although the virus has been detected without a clear link to Africa.

The majority – 84 percent—of confirmed cases are from the European region, followed by the Americas, Africa, Eastern Mediterranean region, and Western Pacific region.

“The most obvious manifestation of this is the use of photos of African patients to depict the pox lesions in mainstream media in the global north,” the researchers said.

Ahmed Ogwell, deputy director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than a dozen infectious disease experts in the U.S. and Europe are soliciting suggestions for a new name using the website virological.org.

“We are removing the distinction between endemic and non-endemic countries, reporting on countries together where possible, to reflect the unified response that is needed,” the WHO said in its outbreak situation update sent out on July 23.

As for what the virus currently known as “monkeypox” should be called, the scientists suggest starting with hMPXV, to denote the human version of the monkeypox virus. Rather than geographic locations, they said, letters and numbers should be used, based on the order of discovery. In that system, the lineage behind the current international outbreak would be dubbed B.1.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been a total of 45,535 total cases worldwide and 45,148 of those cases have occurred “in locations that have not historically reported monkeypox.”

The disease is currently reported in 98 countries- not just the seven that have traditionally struggled with the disease. 

Camille Seaton, an Aug. 25 guest on the AFRO’s live streaming show on Meta, “The Chickenboxx,” said she first knew she had monkeypox when she looked in the mirror on July 11 and saw “weird bumps” all over her chin. 

“They grew into blisters and I automatically knew something was up,” she told the AFRO ahead of her interview. “I experienced symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chils, night sweats, and joint and back pain.” 

Seaton said she wanted to speak out because those affected might “feel very alone in this.” 

“You don’t find comfort knowing there’s no cure for the disease–let alone doctors who don’t know what to do with us,” she said. “I want to be their voice.”

This article originally appeared in The Louisiana Weekly.

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