The New York City Department of Health officially asked the World Health Organization to rename the ‘Monkeypox’ virus because of the words “painful and racist history.”
“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,” posted the Commissioner on Twitter.
According to the Smithsonian Institute, the disease received its name after first being discovered in a colony of research monkeys in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Read his full letter below:
On behalf of the City of New York, I would like to extend our
gratitude for your continued support in surveillance, preparedness
and outreach response activities to the U.S.
orthopoxvirus/monkeypox outbreak. Unfortunately, once again,
New York City (NYC) finds itself at the epicenter of a contagious
disease that is affecting the fabric of our communities. We remain
concerned about the rapidly increasing transmission rate of this
virus and limited access to testing resources and vaccine supply.
Further, we have a growing concern for the potentially
devastating and stigmatizing effects that the messaging
around the “monkeypox” virus can have on these already
vulnerable communities. Therefore, I write to urge you to act
immediately on renaming the “monkeypox” virus as the WHO
stated they would do during a June 14t press briefing, over 5
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.
*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.