World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference Tuesday the international body is working on renaming the monkeypox virus after scientists accused the name and its variants of being discriminatory.
Last week, an international group of scientists wrote a position paper arguing that the names of the primary two types of monkeypox, the “West African” clade and the “Congo Basin” clade, are discriminatory and should be renamed with numerical identifiers. Tedros said Tuesday that the clades, the disease caused by monkeypox and the virus itself will all be renamed.
“WHO is also working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes,” he said.
Monkeypox is generally found in the tropical rainforests of Africa, but has garnered more attention in recent weeks due to outbreaks occurring in uncommon locations throughout the West. The virus derived its name because it was initially discovered to circulate amongst primates for years before being discovered in humans in the 1970’s.
“Given the increasingly rapid communication of, and attention to, the international human MPXV outbreak, it is important to consider an appropriate, non-discriminatory, and non-stigmatizing nomenclature and classification of MPXV clades,” the scientists wrote last week.
In addition to a stigmatizing name, some public health officials have warned that the outbreaks may lead to stigma against the LGBT community, as many of the outbreaks in the West have been tied to homosexual men
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