Jonathan Van Ness shares his views on the US government’s “failed response” to the monkeypox outbreak.
in a pointed TIME essay published on Monday, the 35-year-old Queer Eye Star recalled the moment the nation reported its first official case in May and called out the government’s response.
“It has been surreal to see the failed government response to monkey pox, and in many ways I believe it has been fueled by homophobia and transphobia,” he said, adding: “When an outbreak primarily affects men who have sex with men, some of our elected legislators will have no incentive to act He thinks it won’t affect their voters, which is clearly confused because people’s lives are at stake, and there are queer people in all 50 states.”
The reality of the virus hit Van Ness when a friend was forced to cancel a trip to New Orleans, where Van Ness is shooting queer eye, after monkeypox exposure.
“I started calling all the political contacts I have, ringing alarm bells about how quickly things were picking up, and begging officials to take the virus more seriously.”
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Comparing the government’s response to monkey pox to that of the authorities’ deadly slow response to the AIDS epidemic, Van Ness said he is “disappointed” in politicians who were in office then and now “such as president.” [Joe] Biden and speaker [Nancy] Pelosi.”
“Again, we see too little action being taken until the situation gets out of hand. If nothing changes, we will continue to experience failures like this response, which is plagued by too few tests, lack of access to treatments, inadequate vaccine provision and ambiguous guidance,” he said.
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Van Ness then called on officials not to take “more proactive steps” to release an easily accessible vaccine after cases “started to increase in June”.
“Why haven’t we seen this government prioritize the rapid procurement of monkeypox vaccines?” he asked, noting how many, as at the start of the AIDS epidemic, seem to view — and reject — the virus as something that only affects the LGBTQ+ community.
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The star noted that monkey pox being declared a public health emergency was “a step in the right direction — but it was a day late and a dollar short” before sharing a joke he often tells on his stand-up shows.
“It was so funny to see straight people freaked out by the government’s response during COVID-19 because we think, ‘Honey, this is Tuesday,’ said Van Ness, who found out he was HIV positive 10 years ago.” Did you think the government would come to help you?’ We are used to this kind of passivity. Monkeypox is like: same day, different virus.”
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The star added: “I think tragedy, hope, despair and resilience can all coexist. But we have to act.”
Claiming that “everyone should care about monkeypox,” even if they aren’t directly affected by it, “because we should care about each other,” Van Ness left fans with a reminder that other diseases, such as HIV, still exist, together. with the stereotypes around them and the limits to good health care.
“This isn’t just a story about monkey pox. This is a story about how we consistently disappoint people on the fringes. We have to be brave about what we want to see — and no one should have been willing to witness the spread of this outbreak.” for the last two months,” he wrote.”