Experts are concerned about the overlap between HIV infection and monkeypox.
We’re starting to get a better picture of how the disease is affecting individuals as the global monkeypox case count rises to more than 1,300. Most cases are easily manageable. Symptoms include small, painful bumps and blisters in the genital areas, which can be followed by fever and swelling. The rash may spread to the arms or legs and even the face.
Although monkeypox can cause severe scarring, it is rare for the West African version to be fatal. The current outbreak has left no one dead in countries where it is not endemic.
The virus can be avoided easily. It’s generally spread by contact with a monkeypox rash, so avoiding touching others’ skin is a solid strategy for prevention.
Although monkeypox can be avoided and isn’t particularly fatal, it is easy to dismiss the danger. It is important not to ignore these infections, as they can prove fatal.
Covid-19 has made it clear that a mild case of monkeypox can turn into a fatal illness. Monkeypox can be deadly for some people, but only a minority are at higher risk because of pre-existing medical conditions. It’s a serious pathogen and one worth keeping. It is also worth trying to figure out who will be most hurt as the spread of the virus continues.
Persons who are immunocompromised, pregnant, or have certain skin conditions, such as those with severe skin conditions, may be at higher risk of developing monkeypox complications.
Our best understanding of the many problems monkeypox may cause is from Nigeria. There more than 500 cases of monkeypox have been reported by health professionals since 2017.
Monkeypox infection may cause a skin rash that can be extremely painful. In some cases, it can even require hospitalization to treat the swelling and pain. Monkeypox becomes dangerous when the virus is spread to other parts of the body, said Andrea McCollum (epidemiologist at the Center for Disease Control’s poxvirus/rabies branch).
When monkeypox was fatal, patients were often left with severe infections of the brain and bloodstream. These complications can occur due to viral infections of organs or secondary infections caused by the virus’ inflammatory effect.
These complications are more likely in patients with severe immunosuppression, according to Dixie Obina, an infectious diseases doctor at Niger Delta University Bayelsa (Nigeria) and the lead author of a report on outcomes among Nigerian patients admitted between 2017-2018.
He explained in an email that since the Nigerian epidemic, nine people have died from monkeypox. Ongoing revealed that four of those who died had uncontrolled HIV infections; one was a newborn, and the other was infected with underlying kidney disease and was receiving immunosuppressive medications. One pregnant woman with monkeypox experienced a spontaneous miscarriage at 26 weeks gestation.
Stuart Isaacs, who is a University of Pennsylvania virologist and studies poxviruses which include the monkeypox virus, said it isn’t clear why certain immunocompromised patients are more at risk.
Brett Petersen at the CDC, an internist, medical epidemiologist, and physician, stated that there is currently very little human data. Researchers have attempted to identify which types of immunocompromised people are most at risk from poxvirus infection using animal models. These animal experiments revealed that CD4 cells (which are depleted due to untreated HIV infections), and antibody-producing b cells play a key role in controlling the initial infection.
According to the agency, people with immunocompromising conditions (such as HIV, a wide variety of cancers, stem cell transplants, and certain autoimmune disorders) are at increased risk for serious illness.
People with pre-existing conditions such as eczema, i.e., McCollum explained that people with eczema, or other skin conditions, are at greater risk.
Risk factors that can lead to monkeypox include the same risk factors as those that could cause an immune-compromised condition: Uncontrolled HIV
Monkeypox seems largely spread via close sexual contact, as evidenced by the current global outbreak. Uncontrolled HIV infections are also possible from the same contact that can put you at risk of getting monkeypox. This raises concerns that those with rampant HIV are at the greatest risk of not only getting infected by monkeypox but also suffering the worst consequences.
Gregg Gonsalves, a Yale University epidemiologist, and HIV and global health activist, stated that this is what most worries him. On average, 13% of Americans with HIV are not aware of their diagnosis and do not receive treatment. However, that number can reach as high as 20% in some Southern states as well as higher levels in Western and Plains states. Gonsalves explained that “if there’s a fifth or more of the HIV-positive population that don’t know their status, it’s an indication they’re in danger.”
If people are ill, they should avoid having sex with them and use condoms or dental dams to prevent the spread of disease. Although many sexually-active people use these precautions, closeted gay or bisexual males whose sexual activity has been stigmatized are less likely than others to do so. For these groups, homophobia, stigmatization, and other factors can hinder getting tested or seeking treatment for sexually transmitted illnesses, such as HIV.
Homophobia prevents Black men in many US areas from receiving lifesaving HIV treatment. This is a major factor in higher HIV deaths and HIV infections among Black Americans. This means that the same marginalized persons who are at high risk for untreated HIV are also at higher risk of monkeypox infections and serious consequences.
The more widespread the outbreak, the greater the chance that it will spread to more people who are immunocompromised. If this happens, it could lead eventually to devastating consequences. Ongoing stated, “This should motivate us to act regardless of the location of the spread urgently.”
Ongoing said that there’s a serious threat if “global action is not taken” to understand the disease and virus better everywhere and to devise innovative countermeasures. It would be possible to see significant improvements in the numbers of virus-infected people and in the destruction it causes.