Social media users are sharing a photo of a supposed article from The Atlantic that encourages men to increase their number of sexual partners to “end the stigma surrounding monkeypox.” But the story is fake; the US magazine confirmed to AFP that it did not publish it.
“My First Gay Orgy,” says the headline of the purported article, shared in a photo published August 2, 2022 on Facebook. “Straight Men Are In A Unique Position To End The Stigma Surrounding Monkey Pox.”
Similar posts sharing the supposed Atlantic headline — none of which link to a full article — have also circulated on Instagram and Twitter.
The claims come after the US and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a public health emergency. By early August, US cases had topped 7,000.
But The Atlantic told AFP the article shared online is fake.
Anna Bross, the magazine’s senior vice president for communications, told AFP: “This screenshot is clearly and crudely fabricated. The Atlantic published no such thing.”
The Atlantic does have a contributing writer named Tom Nichols, whose name appears in the posts. But his author page has no article resembling the one shared online.
The posts are the latest in a series of claims equating monkeypox to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) — including one from US Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene that the disease spreads predominantly through “gay sex orgies.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says on its website that monkeypox “is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but it is often transmitted through close, sustained physical contact, which can include sexual contact.”
Monkeypox cases have been primarily identified “in communities of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men,” according to the WHO, whose Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in late July urged men who have sex with men to limit their sexual partners to slow the spread of the disease.
However, the WHO notes on its website: “Anyone who has close contact with someone who is infectious is at risk.”
“It is important to note that the risk of monkeypox is not limited to men who have sex with men,” the agency says.
AFP has previously debunked other fabricated Atlantic articles and false claims about monkeypox.