The new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the alarming disparities in mpox-related deaths in the United States. Almost 90% of the mpox-related deaths in the US were among Black men, with the majority having weakened immune systems. The outbreak that occurred between May 2022 and March 2023 resulted in 30,235 people being diagnosed with mpox, and 38 deaths being linked to the virus, with the average age of those who died being 34. This data underscores the importance of addressing the underlying health disparities that have contributed to these disproportionate outcomes.
Mpox is known to spread through close contact, and anyone can be infected. However, during the 2022 outbreak, infections were primarily among gay or bisexual men or other men who have sex with men. It is essential to recognize the intersectionality of mpox and HIV, particularly as most people hospitalized for severe cases of mpox were Black men with uncontrolled HIV that may have weakened their immune systems.
Furthermore, the report reveals that almost a quarter of those who died had delays of three to seven weeks from diagnosis to treatment, and two got no treatment for mpox. These findings highlight the importance of timely interventions and the need to prioritize equitable access to prevention, treatment, and engagement and retention in care, particularly among Black men and other persons at risk for sexually associated infections.
The CDC report emphasizes the need for equity-based strategies, such as tailored messages and expanded vaccine services, to increase vaccination rates among racial and ethnic minorities. Although vaccination rates among Black and Hispanic men exceeded those among White men by August, the vaccination-to-case ratio remained lower among Black and Hispanic men, and vaccination rates were not proportionate to the elevated incidence rates among Black men. Therefore, continued implementation of equity-based vaccination strategies is needed to further increase vaccination rates and reduce the incidence of mpox among all racial and ethnic groups.
In conclusion, this new report from the CDC highlights the urgent need to address the underlying health disparities that have contributed to the disproportionate outcomes of mpox among Black men. The findings emphasize the importance of timely interventions and the need to prioritize equitable access to prevention, treatment, and engagement and retention in care, particularly among those at risk for sexually associated infections. Continued implementation of equity-based vaccination strategies is needed to further increase vaccination rates and reduce the incidence of mpox among all racial and ethnic groups.
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