Fresh of the heels of a pandemic that has upended the world we now have news of an international outbreak of monkeypox. While this hasn’t seemed to have slowed or stopped openings of borders or even venues it could very well have an impact on prostitution.
At the time of writing there have been over 42,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox discovered worldwide. Since testing capability remains remarkably low the real number of infected individuals is undoubtedly higher. A vaccine for monkeypox has existed for some time but actual doses appear to be in short supply.
The characteristics and epidemiology of monkeypox
Monkeypox can spread through close skin-to-skin contact, bodily fluids and even through surfaces like mattress coverings. That doesn’t bode well for a sex industry that is based on body to body touching, sexual activity and the often repeated use of things like beds and seats. At this point one might expect an increase in hygienic practices but in some cases that still does not exist.
There are also confirmed cases of monkeypox spreading to domestic animals. This isn’t necessarily surprising. Monkeypox was first discovered among captive monkeys. Hence the name. But widespread infection among animals in close contact with people could mean a long road ahead.
Controlling an infection in a human population is one thing. Controlling a disease that has infected multiple species of animals across a large geographic area is another.
How serious is it?
If there is a bright side to any of this it is that the form of the monkeypox virus currently circulating has so far lead to few fatalities. In general it appears the fatality rate for those infected with virus can be as high as 11 percent. But even a 1 percent fatality rate is nothing to sneeze at when speaking of tens of thousands of cases.
Thankfully there is a vaccine. And it can even help those who have already become infected. There are also other existing medicines that can treat the virus. In other words existing treatment appears to be very effective against monkeypox. And most cases so far seem to be relatively mild.
At the same time even a non-fatal infection with monkeypox can lead to extreme discomfort and complications. Dark scars can be left on the skin of those who have recovered. Since several of the current infections have occurred on or around the genitals that could lead to serious stigma in the future.
I could live without a penis covered in dark spots. I am sure most of you share my sentiments. If you think otherwise I invite you to look at this picture of a monkeypox infected penis. But only if you are not prone to nightmares.
How has the sex industry responded?
From what I have seen very few adult entertainment venues anywhere in the world have done much of anything in reaction to the monkeypox outbreak. Perhaps that is understandable as the industry is still trying to recover from a long pandemic.
However some individual service providers like escorts have limited their activity in reaction to monkeypox. I know of some sex workers who have publicly announced a slowdown in their work or even restriction to people they already know. Of course this sort of policy is probably easier for high end escorts to enact than those who turn to sex work to survive one day to the next.
What about larger trends? The Medical Council of Thailand recently advised Thai people to avoid sexual contact with foreigners to prevent the spread of monkeypox. Though sort of xenophobic idea doesn’t seem to be a global sentiment. At least not yet. We should also consider that this comes from a place where the health minister once blamed “dirty farang” who “don’t shower” for the spread of Covid-19.
As it stands things seem to be going normally at the moment. Or at least as normal as things can be in the “new normal” we now live in. I have to imagine that things like inflation will probably have more of an actual effect on the commercial sex industry around the world than the monkeypox virus. At least for now. There is certainly a potential for things to go off in a bad direction here. Hopefully that will not happen.