This gay nurse joins many others now sharing their monkeypox stories

This article has been republished with permission from My fabulous disease , a blog by HIV advocate Mark S. King. You can read the original story here.

The photo on Brian Thomas’ Instagram page was typically sunny for the social media personality, who has built a growing presence as an HIV-positive gay nurse living with HIV.

“Farewell Wilton Mansions! he was reading, next to a photo of himself smiling shirtless among the palm trees of the predominantly odd South Florida town. “What an amazing trip! I can not wait to return!”

It was the last post of his vacation, a busy week of sunbathing by the pool, hitting the nude beach and enjoying all the fun Wilton Manors nightlife has to offer.

A few days after returning to Baltimore, the blisters appeared.

Brian was about to learn to live with a new virus threat, joining a growing number of people around the world who have been diagnosed with monkeypox, a sometimes debilitating infection that causes fever, abdominal cramps and painful blisters. which can scar the body. It is also very contagious.

Hours after his diagnosis, Brian took to his social media pages and revealed what he was going through. He was generally transparent, posting video testimonials that didn’t shy away from intimate details. He discussed each symptom as it occurred, the gay sex venue that could have exposed him to the virus, and the lesions inside his rectum that caused him a lot of pain.

His posts throughout his two weeks in monkeypox isolation were informative, flat, sexually candid, and incredibly important if we are to raise the alarm about this latest viral passenger in the LGBTQ community. (No, monkeypox is not a homosexual disease, but it took hold among us very early, following our habits and our social and sexual interactions. It is only a matter of time before it does not find safe passage in other demographic groups.)

Brian isn’t the first to come forward and discuss a monkeypox diagnosis. benjamin ryan recently released his NBC News video story featuring several gay men discussing their experiences with the daytime virus. There is an anonymous Twitter account, @MyMonkeyPoxLife, giving a blow-by-blow of his continued experience with the symptoms. Activist Leo Herrera released podcasts drawing a direct line between finding monkeypox blisters and the trauma of early AIDS experienced by older gay men. The CDC has released information and advice on monkeypox that is refreshing and straightforward for the usually overcautious agency. And the science editor of POZ Magazine Liz Highleyman has been posting articles with news, helpful tips and political concerns for weeks.

We need as many stories as possible to get across the basics of monkeypox, especially if we’re talking about a virus that could become a new endemic disease that everyone will avoid for the rest of our lives. .

I interviewed Brian for My fabulous disease because his posts are the first real-time video reports I’ve seen from the front lines of monkeypox. He told us about his physical ailments, his treatment, and the frustration and doubts that come when you’re stuck in solitary confinement for two weeks with an infection steeped in sexual shame and homophobia.

It seems that monkeypox is rapidly moving from a tangential concern to a high profile health threat that we need to take seriously, and now.

Take care of yourself and be well.

To mark

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