Amidst concerns of racism, the World Health Organisation has announced that it will rename Monkeypox to mpox. 

Amidst concerns that its current name might be construed as racist, the World Health Organisation has announced that Monkeypox will be renamed to mpox. 

In a statement released this week, the WHO stated its plan to ‘phase out’ the current term and replace it with mpox: “Following a series of consultations with global experts, WHO will begin using a new preferred term ‘mpox’ as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while ‘monkeypox’ is phased out.” 

The organisation added: “WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimise any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name.”

The virus was so named on account of first being discovered in monkeys kept for research in a Denmark facility in 1958. Despite what the name suggests, it is prevalent in a number of animals, most commonly rodents. It was first discovered in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Earlier this year, global concerns spiked when the virus was discovered in multiple countries across Europe. 23 cases were recorded in Spain, five in Portugal, and a suspected seven in the UK, causing health authorities to go on high alert. 

In August, radio host Kyle Sandilands was slammed for calling the mpox a ‘big gay disease’ on air. “The Monkeypox. The big gay disease floating around, it’s only the gays getting it. Are you worried about getting it?” he asked Brooklyn Ross’ partner Damien. 

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Sandilands was criticised for his remarks by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations for fuelling stigma and misinformation about the LGBTQIA+ community. “When people hear segments such as this, it inflames stigma and deters people from visiting healthcare clinics to be tested and vaccinated.” a statement from the organisation said. 

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