The monkeypox virus will be given a new name, according to the World Health Organization, in order to separate the virus from stigmatization.
The decision comes after 30 international scientists penned a letter urging for a new “non-discriminatory, and non-stigmatizing nomenclature and classification” of the virus, also known as MPXV.
The virus has been commonly, though inaccurately, aligned with Africa, which has left room for discrimination. The most overt example of this is using images of African patients to portray pox lesions in northern mainstream media. The situation has caused so much harm that Foreign Press Association, Africa, issued a plea to global media outlets, asking that they cease using African citizens to draw awareness to the outbreak in Europe.
The World Health Organization plans to take swift action to address this matter, stating that they’ll be making an announcement about the new name “as soon as possible.”
“WHO is also working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus,” stated WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during Tuesday’s press briefing.
The depiction of monkeypox is similar to how the coronavirus was represented in the early days of the pandemic. Since it originated in China and Donald Trump notoriously dubbed it the “Chinese Virus,” this caused stigmatization, which was also noticeable in mainstream media.
There are currently 71 known cases of monkeypox in the United States. Of the 18 states with cases, New York and California have reported the most, with 15 each. Globally, 1,600 cases have been confirmed, and another 1,500 are suspected in 39 countries. The virus has been linked to 72 deaths. The onset of monkeypox is usually marked by a fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash that then turns to fluid-filled bumps and exhaustion. Monkeypox can also cause lymph nodes to swell.