Risque Monkeypox awareness ad from SNHD sparks debate in medical and LGBTQ+ communities

Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 12:23 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - A risque Monkeypox awareness ad from the Southern Nevada Health District has sparked debate among people in the medical community and among LGBTQIA+ advocates, whether the message promotes gay stereotypes and stigma, or is an avante-garde way to capture a Las Vegas-based audience in a public health emergency.

The ad, showing a man in underwear, states, “Now that we have your attention... Stay in the know about Monkeypox,” promoting knowledge of signs and symptoms, and free vaccinations.

Risque Monkeypox awareness ad sparks debate in medical and LGBTQ+ community
Risque Monkeypox awareness ad sparks debate in medical and LGBTQ+ community(SNHD)

According to SNHD, spokesperson Jennifer Sizemore said these were “highly targeted ads” done through a third party, and gay men were among the audiences chosen. “We acknowledge this was not the approach,” she said by phone after the ad was taken down, stating that SNHD is pursuing a “better way to get the way message out” with a “broader approach.”

Other ads are still running on Instagram and other platforms promoting vaccinations and awareness.

Local nurse and LGBTQIA+ advocate Chandler Kramer saw the ad on his phone and expressed concern to SNHD. His husband owns the local hotspot The Garden and promotes Pride tourism across the valley.

“It just made the LGBT or the gay community seem just sexually promiscuous, and, that’s the only way to grab my attention when I’m so much more than that. And we’re all so much more than that,” Kramer said, concerned about stigmatization and hate. “To stick that label on the LGBTQ community, I think we saw the detriment that happened with that with COVID, , in stigmatizing with the Asian population, and the backlash that they received during the time,” he said.

“This is not a gay disease, and it’s also not a sexually transmitted disease,” he said.

Monkeypox, according to doctors, is not a STD. The virus can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, sexual contact, bodily fluids, contact with “fomites” from laundry and linens, and respiratory droplets from being in a confined space for hours with an infected person. Scenarios include sexual contact, large and packed gatherings, and household spread. Men, women and children have caught the disease, though the male gay and bisexual community has been disproportionately impacted due to large gatherings and festivals.

In contrast, the director of the Huntridge Clinic, which helps the LGBTQ+ community with STD prevention, vaccinations and health, was disappointed with the decision. He spoke with health officials and believes the ad should return.

“The way that we’re going to make the biggest impact in this whole public health emergency is continuing to think outside of the box. We have to look at this as harm reduction, prevention and marketing. And being open-minded,” Phoenix said, seeing concerns but stating that the impact on the targeted audience is crucial.

“There are billboards all up and down the Strip, we are a very hypersexual community. And we have to do things that are going to catch attention. This is just showing a very attractive person. It’s not identifying them as gay... Why couldn’t this ad be targeted toward women? because some women have risk for this... Why are we not embracing this and looking at it as an opportunity to increase and expand awareness?” he said.

The Huntridge clinic has two vaccination clinics this weekend, in support of Black Gay Pride.

  • Saturday, 9 p.m.: Jimmy’s at Madison
  • Sunday, 10 p.m.: The Artifice