Beyond the injuries, the psychological stigma of monkeypox

Beyond the injuries, the psychological stigma of monkeypox

If monkeypox mainly affects skin lesions and episodes of fever, those affected also suffer from the psychological repercussions related to the disease, warn former patients and caregivers.

“We did not come out unscathed from a disease that has done us a lot of damage, locked up for three weeks with, in addition, the weight of discrimination,” confides Corentin Hennebert, 27, who speaks publicly after being “one of the first French cases Since his remission, he has been approached by other patients who, like him, report the “psychological cost” of the disease.

” Shaving blades “

“There is a psychological discomfort that is related to several things,” explains Nathan Peiffer-Smadja, an infectious disease specialist at the Bichat hospital (Paris), who coordinated a clinical study in infected patients. On the one hand, “the pain” and the possible “sequelae, in particular aesthetic”, on the other hand, the fact of being affected by “a disease that people have never heard of” and that occurs after two years of the Covid. -19 epidemic, leading to a new isolation of three weeks. A small portion of patients develop internal injuries, particularly proctology, that are “extremely painful” and sometimes require hospitalization or even surgery, he explains.

This was the case for Corentin Hennebert: “I constantly had the impression that razor blades were being pushed at me, I can’t find any other comparison, it was so strong,” he says. . Before she was given tramadol, a powerful painkiller, she had “lost 7kg in three days” because she no longer ate. “I just thought about the pain,” she recalls. “And I’m not the only one, others have contacted me to say that they were exhausted, that they were crying all the time.”

The rekindled trauma of HIV

Saved from these sufferings, Sébastien Tuller, 32, says that he was affected by the appearance of the injuries. “He was really ugly and didn’t know what to do. I was very anxious to see it appear on my face. “As soon as a disease is visible, it’s scary because it becomes potentially stigmatizing,” observes Michel Ohayon, director of 190, a sexual health center, drawing a parallel with “Karposi’s sarcoma,” which was “the symptom of AIDS ”. A comparison often taken up by those interested.

Because if the two diseases “have nothing to do” in terms of severity, monkeypox “reawakens the trauma of HIV,” estimates Nicolás Derche, national director of the community health center of the SOS group, which brings together 650 structures. social and medical-social. “In HIV-positive people, this has reactivated very violent things”, whether it is “fear of a diagnosis” or “reviving a strong stigma”, reports Vincent Leclercq, an Aides activist.

As with HIV, monkeypox currently circulates primarily within the MSM (men who have sex with men) community, which has led to renewed discrimination. “There is a lot of ordinary homophobia and this has a real impact on mental health,” testifies Sébastien Tuller, an LGBT activist and lawyer, who recounts receiving torrents of insults and derogatory comments. “Many don’t say they have or have had monkeypox for fear of being stigmatized,” he reports. “Especially young people, who have not yet come out of the closet” to their family, or people who fear that their sexual orientation will be revealed to their employer for the duration of isolation (three weeks).

Precariousness and degradation of sexual life

In August, Santé Publique France noted “psychological and relational difficulties” reported through the “Monkeypox info service” line. The association that manages this listening service specifies that 22% of the calls refer to these issues. Among the other repercussions observed, the effects on mental health “of the precariousness” engendered for some, such as freelancers or sex workers, by the three weeks of isolation, and the “degradation of sexual life”, says Nicolás Derche.

For fear of being contaminated or contaminated, many people have ceased all sexual activity for months, or are experiencing libido problems, explain the associations. Fortunately, Nicolas Derche underlines, “the experience of HIV” has made it possible to develop “the community health approach” and “care for exposed people” and thus “support people who today face monkeypox”.

#injuries #psychological #stigma #monkeypox

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