Researchers have found that the monkeypox virus is disproportionately affecting people with HIV.
A recent study from the CDC finds that in a sample of nearly 2,000 people who had monkeypox, 38% also had HIV infection and 41% had an STI in the preceding year. Those rates are much higher than the rates of HIV and STIs in the general population.
Another draw from the study is that people living with HIV account for nearly double the amount of hospitalizations than those without HIV. Dr. Aniruddha Hazra, assistant professor in a section of infectious disease and Global Health at UChicago Medicine, said some of that is due to people with HIV, particularly those with immunocompromised conditions, may succumb to more severe monkeypox cases.
In the general population of people living with HIV, Hazra said they do not seem to be at risk for more severe outcomes compared to people without HIV.
He compared it to COVID: the virus doesn’t impact all people that live with HIV in the same way. It may cause severe illness in those who have either uncontrolled HIV or if it has severely impacted their immune system.
While monkeypox cases have seen ongoing declines, there have been proportions of case increases in Black and Latino populations. Plus, there’s a disparity in vaccine rates.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, weekly case averages show Black residents make up 23% of cases, Latino residents 27%, however, Black residents make up 12% of vaccine doses, Latino residents 21%.
“We’re seeing a huge disparity on who is getting monkeypox versus who is vaccinated and it jogs a lot of memory of what’s been happening with COVID,” Hazra said.
From public health officials, Hazra said there needs to continue to be a push to identify communities that are most vulnerable. Efforts need to be made to make sure they have access to interventions, but also to education on how to protect themselves.
“It’s trying to match the epidemiology and public health has to remain nimble in order to do so,” Hazra said.
More information on monkeypox vaccines from the city of Chicago are available here.