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New report shows racial disparities in NC monkeypox cases and vaccinations

Testing capacity for monkeypox is being rapidly expanded.
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez
Getty Images
Testing capacity for monkeypox is being rapidly expanded.

Black men make up 70% of monkeypox cases in North Carolina. But data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows only 24% of people who have received the monkeypox vaccine are Black.

Those findings are highlighted in NCDHHS’ first equity data report on the monkeypox outbreak, released Thursday.

The state has confirmed 111 cases. All of those cases in men and most are in men who have sex with men. Anyone who has skin-to-skin contact with an infected person can get the virus.

"Monkeypox is disproportionately impacting Black men," the report says.

But most vaccine doses — 67% of 3,048 administered — have gone to white men. Vaccine supply is limited, and health officials are taking steps to make sure it is going to those with the highest risk, men who have sex with men and their sexual networks.

Health and human services says it will focus on equalizing vaccine access as the outbreak continues to unfold.

"Viruses often impact historically marginalized communities first, not because of who they are, but because of systemic inequities that made them vulnerable in the first place," the report says. "We must understand how this disease spreads and work together to prioritize our resources where they are most needed, helping those most vulnerable immediately, and all of us over time."

The agency will launch advertising campaigns on social media and LGBTQ dating apps to raise awareness. Equity data reports will also be published every weeks.

Copyright 2022 North Carolina Public Radio. To see more, visit North Carolina Public Radio.

Bradley George