New York asks WHO to re-name ‘stigmatizing’ monkeypox


New York City has asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to rename the monkeypox virus to avoid stigmatizing patients who might then hold off on seeking care.

The city’s public health commissioner Ashwin Vasan made the request in a letter to WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus on Tuesday.

Vasan referenced the “painful and racist history within which terminology like ‘monkeypox’ is rooted for communities of colour.”

“Continuing to use the term ‘monkeypox’ to describe the current outbreak may reignite these traumatic feelings of racism and stigma, particularly for Black people and other people of colour, as well as members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, and it is possible that they may avoid engaging in vital health care services because of it,” Vasan said.

The WHO had floated the idea of changing the name of the virus, which is related to the eradicated smallpox virus, during a press conference last month, a proposal Vasan mentioned in his letter.

According to the WHO, more than 16,000 confirmed cases have been recorded in 75 countries so far this year.

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