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hMPXV, commonly known as monkeypox, is a legitimate public health issue that is relevant to all of us.

It often causes a rash and flu-like illness, and can spread to any person through close contact, including skin-to-skin contact. Anyone who comes in close contact with monkeypox can get the disease. Transmission is not based on a person’s gender or sexual orientation.

Vaccines are currently limited in supply, so those who are more likely to contract the virus due to community spread or other health factors, may meet vaccine eligibility requirements from CT’s Department of Public Health or RI Department of Public Health.

If you are interested in finding out if you are eligible for the vaccine, please call 877-529-3689 and our call center will connect you to be screened, and if eligible, to make an appointment.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your partner from monkeypox. Below is infromation to learn more about the virus, prevention strategies, and eligibility for the vaccine at some PPSNE Connecticut health centers.

Monkeypox Screening and Vaccines

Planned Parenthood of Southern New England is proud to be a part of Connecticut’s public health response to the spread of monkeypox. Currently, all PPSNE health centers can provide screening and testing for monkeypox.

Beginning on Monday, August 8, Connecticut health centers in Willimantic, Norwich, and Bridgeport will offer monkeypox vaccines for those eligible and by appointment only.

If you are interested in finding out if you are eligible for the vaccine, please call 877-529-3689 and our call center will connect you to be screened, and if eligible, to make an appointment.

According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, those eligible for the vaccine are people who are:

  • 18 years old or older
  • Residents of Connecticut (confirmed by a piece of mail or other ID)
  • At risk for developing the infection by:
    • Having risk factors for having been exposed to someone with monkeypox infection
    • Being a known contact of someone who tested positive for the monkeypox virus
Vaccine eligibility in Connecticut
What is hMPXV, or monkeypox?

hMPXV, commonly referred to as monkeypox, is a viral infection. Symptoms typically begin within three weeks after exposure, and the illness usually lasts from 2-4 weeks. Monkeypox causes a rash and flu-like illness, and can spread to any person through close contact, including skin-to-skin contact.

What are the symptoms?

You may experience all or only a few symptoms.

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory symptoms like a sore throat, congestion, or cough.
  • A rash that may be located on areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, mouth, or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butthole).
    • The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
    • The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
Who can get hMPXV, or monkeypox?

Anyone can be affected by monkeypox, regardless of who they are, what they do, who they choose to have sex with, or any other personal characteristic. Anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox is at risk for contracting the disease. For these reasons, monkeypox is a legitimate public health issue that is relevant to all of us.

There is a great deal of misinformation about monkeypox being shared, and it contributes to stigma against those who get the virus. There is absolutely no room for stigma when it comes to public health or health care. Planned Parenthood is committed to ensuring people have the medically accurate information and education they need to lead safe and healthy lives, free from shame or judgment.

How can I care for myself and protect others if I have monkeypox?

There are several steps you can take to help yourself recover from monkeypox.

Caring for a rash

  • Avoid scratching any rash or lesions
  • Wash hands thoroughly after touching rash or lesions
  • Keep rash dry and uncovered
  • Keep rash clean with sterilized water and antiseptic washes
  • Rinse lesions in and around the mouth with salt water
  • Take warm baths with baking soda/Epsom salt
  • Use paracetamol to manage the discomfort of the rash/lesions, if necessary

Avoid contact with anyone until all lesions have scabbed over, fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This could take several weeks.

Tips for isolating at home

If you live with other people:

  • Isolate in a separate room
  • Use a separate bathroom, or clean and disinfect surfaces after each use
  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol based sanitizer
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces with soap and water or a household disinfectant
  • Avoid sweeping and vacuuming
  • Use separate dishes, cups, bedding, towels and other personal items
  • Do your own laundry. Use soap and water greater than 60 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Open Windows

If you can’t avoid being in the same room with others:

  • Cover rash with clothing/bandages
  • Avoid touching
  • Wear a well-fitting medical mask
  • Clean hands
  • Open Windows
Can you get monkeypox from sex?

While scientists are still researching whether monkeypox can be spread directly through vaginal fluids or semen, spending time being physically intimate with someone — for example, through cuddling, kissing, and sex — does play a role in transmission. However, intimate, sexual contact is not the only way the virus can spread.

According to the CDC, the virus can spread from direct contact with infected sores or bodily fluids, touching fabrics or surfaces that someone with monkeypox has used, and by long periods of face-to-face contact you might naturally have when living with, caring for, or being intimate with someone who has the virus. The virus can be spread from the initial onset of symptoms until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed.

How can I safely have sex during the monkeypox outbreak?

If you or a sexual partner has monkeypox, you can protect others by not sharing towels, linens, clothing, or sex toys; by avoiding oral, anal, and vaginal sex; and by not kissing or touching other people’s bodies. These are all precautions you can take to limit the spread of monkeypox until your rash has healed, your scabs have fallen off, and a new layer of skin is present.

Additionally, there are other steps you can take to enjoy sexual relationships and still keep yourself and others safe:

  • Have virtual sex with no in-person contact.
  • Masturbate together at a distance of at least 6 feet, without touching each other and without touching any rash.
  • Consider having sex with your clothes on or covering areas where rash is present, reducing as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. If the rash is confined to the genitals or anus, condoms may help; however, condoms alone are likely not enough to prevent monkeypox.
  • Avoid kissing.
  • Remember to wash your hands, fetish gear, sex toys and any fabrics (bedding, towels, clothing) after having sex.
  • Having multiple or anonymous sex partners may increase your chances of exposure to monkeypox. Limiting your number of sex partners may reduce the possibility of exposure.
  • Avoid touching the rash. Touching the rash can spread it to other parts of the body and may delay healing.

There is no room for stigma

There is no room for stigma in public health or health care. Right now, there is dangerous disinformation about hMPXV, or Monkeypox being a virus that only effects LGBTQIA+ communities. That is simply untrue and we will do all we can to ensure people have the medically accurate information and education they need to lead safe and healthy lives, free from shame or judgment. How we talk about hMPXV, or monkeypox, is critically important.

Below are some stigma-busting facts about hMPXV and the LGBTQIA+ community:

  • Monkeypox is a significant public health concern for all people. ANYONE can get hMPXV. It can be spread by anyone regardless of sexual orientation or identity.

  • While all people can contract and spread monkeypox, it is true that a high number of infections are impacting the LGBTQIA+ community

  • PPSNE stands in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community and ensuring that they receive the care and treatment they need. The public health response must prioritize the impacted communities, which is why vaccine eligibility has sexual orientation or identity factors.

  • Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease. Skin to skin contact is one of the primary ways the virus is spread, which is why sex spreads the virus. Focusing on sexual intercourse as a means of transmission is harmful and limits the response.

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