Today at 07:03
There I am, with about thirty men in front of the GGD pavilion. We can’t go in until two o’clock sharp, so we have to wait outside together, in front of a closed gate. I feel naked on this hot day, exposed not only to the blazing sun, but also to the gaze of others. Because I’m here for my first monkeypox vaccination (of two), intended for gay men with ‘changing contacts’. Shit, I see someone I know.
I also got my corona vaccinations at this location, where all kinds of people came by. But now I walk with queer men in a straight line to the entrance of the pavilion. That makes me feel uncomfortable. I try to suppress the historical associations, but the reality is that we are once again at risk because of our sexual orientation. The danger of getting a nasty condition, the danger of being stigmatized because of our sexual behavior.
In a previous column I wrote that there are far too few vaccines to vaccinate all people (who want to) against monkeypox. So only men who also use the preventive HIV drug PrEP get this vaccination. The fear of getting HIV was taught to men my age and older from an early age, but thanks to PrEP you can have carefree sex. I want that too.
That’s why I ordered these pills, after I had gone through all the tests and checks before.
I just didn’t expect that with the first box of PrEP I would immediately receive an invitation for the monkeypox vaccination. I’m happy with it, but it’s weird that you have to use one preventive medicine to get another preventative vaccination. The assumption is that PrEP users are promiscuous. That is why this group, which can be easily traced through the GGD and GPs, is now being vaccinated. But can you link them together?
I am discussing this with a friend who is on PrEP and also had his first smallpox shot. Isn’t this relationship a bit arbitrary? After all, you can also argue that PrEP users are actually more responsible with their health and that of others, while plenty of other men run conscious or unconscious risks in bed. “We always complain that the government is doing too little,” the friend says. “This may not be the most accurate, but it is a quick and reasonably effective strategy to reach the most vulnerable audience.”
The vaccinated people can breathe a sigh of relief. But the bottom of the vaccine stock is in sight, the friend was told. Other gay men should take it easy for the time being, is the advice. Is that fair? The boyfriend secretly judges men who continue their wild bachelor life unprotected. But I don’t think you can put that blame on them, because we’ve already had to contain a whole pandemic.
The joint efforts seem to be working. The number of new reports of monkey pox dropped dramatically in August. Now all the fear surrounding it.