Monkeypox w/ Brian "PozRN" Thomas
PRIDE
PRIDE

Episode · 1 month ago

Monkeypox w/ Brian "PozRN" Thomas

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

My guest today, Brian Thomas, is a traveling nurse, activist, openly HIV+ health educator, and one of the 9,500 American’s to test positive for monkeypox so far–a diagnosis he has been sharing openly on his popular TikTok account PozRN, in the hopes of curbing the spread of the virus and stigmatization by raising awareness about the disease, especially given the harmful misinformation that the virus only targets queer men.

On today’s episode, Brian shares critical info about monkeypox and his personal experience with the virus, stresses the need for a stronger national response to the outbreak, and gives safety tips to prevent transmission and spread.

For more information on the 2022 monkeypox outbreak in the US, please visit: cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox 

Your host is Levi Chambers, founder of Rainbo Media Co. You can follow Levi @levichambers across socials.

Follow the show and keep up with the conversation @PRIDE across socials.

Want more great shows from Straw Hut Media? Check out or website at strawhutmedia.com.

PRIDE is produced by Levi Chambers, Frank Driscoll, Maggie Boles, Ryan Tillotson, and Brandon Marlo. Edited by Frank Driscoll and Daniel Ferrera.

Have an interesting LGBTQ+ story to share? We might feature U! Email us at lgbtq@strawhutmedia.com.

*This podcast is not affiliated with Pride Media.

Straw media. I was just going about making a normal tiktok video about going and getting tested like I would any other time I go to this doct clinic, and then my followers were like, Oh shit, dy foid, Mary has monkeypox now, and now I have like media sources, you know, calling me all the time because nobody, nobody that has monkey POPs really has been wanting to talk about it. And it's understandable because it's been so stigmatized in the media as this gay disease. And now find people like you are inviting me to speak on podcasts about it with it's just kind of amazing. I'm mean by chambers. My pronouns are he, him, his, and this is pride. My guest today is a traveling nurse activist, openly HIV positive, health educator and one of the Americans to test positive for monkey pops so far, a diagnosis he has been sharing openly on his popular Tick Talk Account, Pas r n, in the hopes of curbing the spread of the virus and stigmatization by raising awareness about the disease, especially given the harmful misinformation that the virus only targets queer men. My name is Brian Thomas. I am a travel nurse that is based out of Baltimore, Maryland, currently living in Los Angeles on a contract, and now, apparently, I'm Mr Monkey pox. In today's episode, Brian or Pasarn shares critical INFO about monkey pox and his personal experience with the virus. He stresses the need for stronger national response to the outbreak and give safety tips to prevent transmission and spread. Before we dive into the interview, a note on monkey pox. Monkey pox is a rare disease in the same family as smallpox, and symptoms can include fever, rash and painful lesions. It is spread predominantly through close skin to skin contact, but can also be passed through body fluids and airborne droplets. The first US case of the recent outbreak was confirmed to on May seventeenth. Since May, there have been about cases nationwide and counting. Currently, of Monkey pocks cases in the United States are in men and of cases report recent mail to male sexual or intimate contact. However, I want to stress this is not a gay virus, it is not the queer community's fault and it is not what we deserve. I stress this because since the outbreak, a lot of homophobic misinformation has been floating around blaming the gay community for the spread of the virus. It is everybody's responsibility to curb the spread of Monkey pocks, and we all need to continue to pressure our local, state and national officials to respond swiftly and protect those who are most vulnerable. So far, the national response has been lacking. The US government didn't classify monkey pocks as a national emergency until last week, literal months since the start of the outbreak. While this designation is definitely a step in the right direction, we still have a long way to go before we have adequate tests and vaccines for all who need and a response that does not stigmatize and vilify the queer community. With that being said, I'll get off my soapbox. Let's dive in. Before his monkeypox diagnosis, Brian used his social media platform to share his story as an openly HIV positive health care worker. I have been making kind of public health and sexual health advocacy content on Tiktok for about two years now and, Um, you know my story before that is very long and very eventful, Um, but you know I became HIV positive in two thousand fourteen and Um, went through a lot of trials and tribulations. Um, through that and after having some really amazing help for medical health professionals, I decided I wanted to do that for other people. So that's when I went to nursing schoo...

...coool and then I went to nursing school and I realized that HIV education and really just like overall awareness and representation of the L G B T Q I a community and the community for people who are living with HIV is really underrepresentative or not represented correctly or well. And that's when I was like no, I need to be really out and proud about my status. and Um, that's when I started making content and Um, it was all about destigmatizing, you know, sexual health and HIV. Brian wasn't always so open about his status, but his time in addiction recovery inspired him to share his story. In recovery, the principle is always that when you like, you can help others by, you know, sharing your experience, and then other people can help others but sharing their experience. And that's really probably where it all came from, Um, and so that's why I started making a lot of content about being HIV positive, especially being an HV positive healthcare worker, because there really are not a lot of public healthcare workers that identify as HIV positive. Um, you know, for a good reason. Be You know, people there's still so much stigma out there and I feel like within especially within the gay community, if you live in the Gayborhood, you live in a city, you know and you're surrounded by those people that are being given this public health and information about HIV. Like we're all very aware of you, equals, you and treatment and all those things. But, Um, if you don't live in those demographics that has been targeted by all of that public health information and media effort, people still are really, really not educated, especially nurses. Um. So that's, you know, why I started sharing my story and, you know, at first it seemed uh, you know, like like why, why am I doing this? Right, but I get a lot of messages from people all over the world that are people living with HIV now that say that I really helped them. They went to nursing school because they saw me be a nurse and they didn't realize that they could do that while they're being there, while they were HIV positive. Um. So I knew that it was you know making. I know that it's making a difference Um, and I kind of knew that it probably would with monkey pugs. So I mean, I feel like that's a good reason to be open about it and then also to go even into healthcare. When I'm making my content, I always try to come from a point of view of like this is my experience, and I think that helps it become more of a this is my experience and what I've learned, instead of this is this is the right way, this is what to do, this is what you should do, Um, and I think that makes the content Um more approachable for everyone, you know, because my preferences aren't going to be, you know, what everybody wants and I try to always acknowledge that, hey, this is what is best for me. There's all of these options. What's best for you? In June Brian attended the Wilton Manners Pride festivities down in Florida, which is where he thinks he contracted monkey poks. I in no way want to drag Wilton matters. Uh, what matters gave pride was a blast. It's a wonderful place to vacation. It's really, you know, lgbtq friendly, neighborhood in south Florida loved it. Um. But yeah, that's when we do the contact tracing. It is most likely where it contracted the virus. and Um, I had planned I was in between two contracts, I had just gone back from New Jersey and I was about to go to Los Angeles, so I plan a trip to Fort Lauder Day and it was June.

I had the whole month thoughts. I said I'm going to go to all of the gay prides that I can, because gay and Um. So I planned a week trip down there and at the end of the trip was will and matters gay pride and me and my boyfriend's had an amazing time and we went to, you know, lots of restaurants and bars and, you know, had some intimate contact at a few different places. You know, like I went to a sleazy bar and had sex with a few people in the sleeves bar and Um, you know, a couple of nights later, like I think the night before we came back, I went to a bath house and I had sex with a few people in the bath house. So, you know, like I had had intimate, uh contact with quite a few people, which is pretty normal for uh my you know, like pride adventures or vacation time. And then I came back and one of my boyfriends actually had covid as soon as he came back and had been isolating for a week. And then I started to come down with these Um flu like symptoms very similar to flu or or COVID. You know, I was really tired, I had a fever and sweats and it really got a headache and, um, body aches, and I said now, Tom you gave me covid. What the Hell? Took A covid test. It was negative. And then I noticed Um too. They looked like bug bites, or they also could have been like, uh, like an ingrown hair, and they were kind of like on my butt cheek. And that's when I was like, I put two and two together really quickly because I had been watching monkey pocks from kind of this like it's Never gonna Happen to me, it's not gonna be a big deal in the states. It's being overblown, Um, but I had been watching it and as soon as, like, I saw these uh put all of these things together, I said this is probably the only thing that this could be. Um, you know, I know, I know uh stds well enough and I know how my body reacts to them. Uh, this is none of them. So I contacted my provider and they had me send some pictures of the legions and then they asked me to come in to be tested the next debt. So, on my Tiktok Platform, it I will take video of me going to get uh my st I screening all the time, like there's, if you go back, there's even a video of me getting treated for Ciphilis. Like I asked them that the medical technician. I was like, can I record this? I just want to show people what it's like getting like a big shot of penicillin in your butt. And so it's pretty like I do this kind of like content making all the time, like where it take people to the clinic with me. It's helps to stigmatize it, right. And Uh, this time it just happened me monkeypox. Well, I mean I've I just loved watching all of your videos, as you kind of took us along with your journey, and I will say I didn't feel like you were ever scared, if that makes sense, and I think a lot of people would be terrified right, mainly because, like you said, no one really knows about it right it's just kind of this digmatized thing in the media right now. Were you actually scared when you first found out? Definitely, definitely. Um. You know, I do a very good job about keeping my content really lighthearted and positive, and there's definitely like behind the scenes, like I was not concerned that, you know, this is life threatening, because I did my research this. You know, there was there was already a large population that was suffering infections in Um Europe, and so we had a lot of data already that this was not there was no mortality associated with it. So, you know, I...

...was like, okay, listen, I know, you know, I'm not going to die from this, and the health department said, you know, if there are life threatening symptoms, okay, if it's affecting your ability to breathe or your ability to defecate or have a bound movement, there's like two, two the big things that we need to do to live Um, then you know, there's Antibio treatment for you, but otherwise it's just kind of like symptom management and I'm a nurse, I knew how to do all those things. So, as far as like fear for my life. I felt fine. Um, there was just a lot of uncertainty about, you know, am I going to have lifelong stars from this? I suffered from really severe inrect illusions and you know, if there's still a lot of uncertainty for me about, you know, like I still haven't had to anal sex. There's still some certainty about, Um, you know, what's going on back there and what, Um, you know, what if and if any permanent damage happened. So there there was all that kind of like fear Um, you know, down the line, and I still have that actually, you know, I'm still kind of like living with that and I guess I will let Tiktok know when someone goes in the back door. And now it goes. But yeah, there was there was some fear there. There definitely was a lot of Um, like a cycle of emotions. But I do a pretty good job generally in life staying positive and Um, kind of uh, just moving forward through struggle, and this is, you know, no different from that. Since we have a healthcare professional with firsthand experience of the monkey pox virus, I asked him to share his monkey pox one, oh one. So for our listeners, could you kind of give us the basics, the monkey pox basics, but from your perspective, obviously, because I'm sure it's different for everyone right. Um, I am a firm believer that, you know, knowledge is power and it makes things less scary. So, you know, monkey pox is part of the orthopox virus family and the other virturesses that are very well known that are in that family are chicken pox and smallpox. Uh, the monkey pox is endemic to some places in Africa in certain strains Um, and this is the first outbreak of its kind that has um reached a global scale, Um, as far as I know, for a long time. So the initial symptoms of monkey pox, and I'm going to list these and say that these can happen in any order. I there can. People are expecting a very classic present t shinum of like flu like symptoms and then pox, because that's the general idea of how the other viruses present themselves. But what we're finding is that some people experience some things first, another things second, some people don't experience them all, some people only experience the Pos and not the systemic, you know, uh, flu like symptoms. So when I list all of these, know that it could be any of these. It could be just one of them. They could come in any order. Uh. The flu like symptoms consist of a fever, a a fever, swollen lymph nodes, chills, fatigue, body aches and a headache. Um, at the viral lesions or pox show up, they start as what appears to be almost a bug bite, and they feel like a bug bite because they itch. Uh. And then it will start to...

...develop, because a few stages where it develops into a postural, which is the clinical term for like a fluid filled sack, uh, and that postural will break open itself or scap over Um. When this is happening, this is when the person that has monkey pocks is probably most infectious. There's mostly arisle because a lot of the viruses in those lesions and when they break open, uh, you know, to us we just see a tiny little bit of fluid come out of those Um, come out of those pocks, but it's actually just like millions of copies of the virus. Uh. And you know, now they're kind of like all over your skin and that's what makes it so infectious by contact. Um. So those and this my experience was very much I had these flu like symptoms. I started to notice two pocks and then I went and went to get tested. Uh, they currently do not have a wide um availability of testing. That isn't Legion based testing. So they really aren't testing people unless you have legions that they can um. If they're already open, they will swab that legion, but if they aren't, what they'll do is lance or they'll poke it with a tiny needle and Um, it doesn't hurt that much, this tiny little crick and they will swab that fluid and then they will send that off to the lab. There is definitely a wide array of experiences with testing their places where testing isn't event available. Lots of labs nationwide aren't even able to run this test. So it really just unfortunately depends on where you are. Um, I did speak with someone recently that works with a covid testing company that is developing a oral swab or a spit test can test for monkey pocks through a PCR test. So Um, that is coming. It's in the works. So that's what happened to me. I got tested and then and then I also had intense abdominal cramps and anal lesions. And we're finding that a lot of people are suffering genital allegians. They can be found in your rectum, around your anus, in your urethra, which, when I was told that sounds unimaginably painful, on your penis or Vagina Um, and they can also be found in your mouth. So the the anal rectal pain I can only describe as like five to seven days of like pure like just clan abdominal cranching, cramping and clenching and pain in my pelvis Um, my rectum, inanis became extremely inflamed and that's when I kind of like could feel some like bumps on the inside and it made it incredibly hard to have a bound movement. Uh, and you I kind of just felt like I had to go all the time for like four days and every time I sat on the toilet I like nothing came out. Um, these are really hard things to like for, you know, for people to to hear, but this is the experience I had and from what I hear, a lot of people are having this same experience. Um, and that went away after about five to seven days. By like day seven it was really I was really recovering from those symptoms. The lesions themselves for me appeared over a course of like five days. So like the first couple of days, you know, every day I woke up and like I was like, oh, there's a new one, there's two new ones, or there's like three. Um. I had about three to four lesions...

...on each extremity. A feel on my trunk area. I had two in my face, Um, and the it seems like the experience some people can just get a few, some people might just get one, Um, some people have been totally covered with them. Uh, so that that experience can be quite wide. Um. So that's kind of like the first week. And all of the care for this is all symptom management, right, unless it's like the anti viral that they have that is effective for helping with this virus is, just like the vaccines, really in short supply. So they really are. The CDC specifically is dosing it out, um or giving permission to have it prescribed. As far as I understand, UM, and it's only in extreme cases, you can be hospitalized mostly for pain management, uh, if it is causing you so much severe pain, Um, that it's really affecting your life. Um. Let's see. So that's I covered. I covered a lot, you know, like otherwise. You know, after that initial like week, during that week, I use stool softwners to help make it easier for me to have a bad movement. I took Thailan on I'd be Profen. They're both actually really great over the counter pain medications. Don't knock them. And h a heating pad was very helpful for my abdominal crams and a lot of ebsence salt bats, or we call them sits bats, Um, just real, real salty bats really help with the Um that new coastal area down there. And as far as your body lesions, what I found really difficult while I had it, and there still isn't a lot of guidance on what is the best way to take care of these legions to get them to heal the best um you know they're. Should I keep them moist? Should I put, you know, MIAs warrn on them and keep them covered? Should I just let them open to air so they dry up and try out? Should I put calumine lotion on them so they don't you know it and they dry out faster? And I can tell you I tried every single one of these things. And I think because I tried every single one of them, I could not tell you if any of them worked better or worse. Um, you know. So they healed eventually. Uh So, as far as like the body, legions really just kind of do what, Um, the best advice I can do is just do whatever is, uh, whatever makes them hurt the least and whatever makes them its less. Um. After about five days, all the legions kind of stopped showing up and they they had all kind of first open, they were scapping over and about a week after that all of all of them had scapped over, dried out and, Um, the scaps have fallen off. The difficult thing about this virus is that it's not just a two week, you know, quarantine and you're good. The lesions that you have have to be completely healed over and the SCABS have to fall off before you are are deemed non infectious any longer, because the scabs themselves can carry viral copies and be infectious as well. So, depending on how your body reacts to the virus, How your body heals from basic wounds and and like skin oprations, will determine how long you have to be in quarantine. Some people it's two weeks, some people it's four weeks really out of pens, and obviously other health problems will affect that. So that covers it from beginning to end, I think, pretty comprehensively. When we come back the lackluster national response to monkey pots, stigmatization of the queer community and how to best protect yourself against the virus. Before...

...the break, Tiktoker, traveling nurse and monkeypox expert Brian Thomas broke down the basics of monkeypox and he shared his personal story of contracting the virus. But why has it been left to good Samaritans like Brian to educate the masses on this rapidly spreading virus? Where's the coordinated national response? Where is the vast media coverage? Where are the tests, the vaccines? Although the US finally announced monkey pox as a national emergency last week, allowing more funds and resources to be deployed against the virus, when we spoke with Brian, this announcement had not yet been made, he paints a good picture of what the response has looked like so far. The Global, national, federal local level have all been abysmal. There has been no infrastructure set up for testing for the vaccine distribution and vaccine sites. And on the federal level they basically gave out I guess per they're like population estimates to all of these local health departments. And then the local health departments they said, okay, you guys, give them out however you want, uh, and then these local health departments are left to try and determine what's going to be the most effective way to give out these vaccinations to make the most difference, Um, and so that's what we're seeing now, and the it can be even more stigmatizing. I know in here in Los Angeles, they they were basically at the beginning there. You know, at first it was only if you had a known exposure to monkey pocks can you get the vaccination because it can be used as pet. My boyfriend's got it as soon as I was diagnosed with it and they haven't had any symptoms. Um, so we think it was effective. But then they said okay, if you, Um, I think it was, if you like are g B positive, or you take prep or you've been to an anonymous sex club in the in the past like so and so days, and so basically they're like further stigmatizing this to be like, Hey, you can get vaccinated, but only if you're a hoe. Umm. And then they need you to say it. Are you a hope? Okay, your hope, yeah, like check, check off, checks off the box sets your hoe, your dirty Skank, okay, you can get vaccinated, Um, which is extremely stigmatizing. Um, and I know so from like a public health standpoint. They were doing the right thing, because that is they're they're using this limited quality, this limited quantity of vaccinations to try and make the most difference. and Um, that's exactly what they should be doing right, is getting the people that are are most likely to get it and spread it. But it really really could have been gone, gone, gone over. They really should have thought a little bit more about that. Um screening process. Um. But then every all of the like Baltimore, My Home City, Baltimore, they got two hundred vaccinations. That's it. Two hundred. Bottom is not like a small city. Um. I mean, I guess it's a small city, but it's not. It's a city. Uh with Gosh, I think I don't even know how many thousand people, but more than two people. Have Way more than two hundred people and surely more than two hundred hos. So I just I just did a report with Um, my local news, and I was like, I'm just I am infuriated, Um. And then I hear that like, cities like Chicago are having vaccine clinics at steamworks, uh, you know, bathhouses, which, don't get me wrong, I think it's fantastic, um, but here bottom wore...

...is like with sitting here with two hundred vaccinations that they're giving about at the bathhouse in Chicago. It's just, uh, it's been. It's been really horrible and it encourages health disparities among, you know, incomes and race and gender. So what do you think needs to be done in order to shift the messaging around monkey pops from being a queer disease or a gay male disease in some ways, to a disease that anyone really can get, whereas right now it does seem like the gay community is being blamed or demonized for it? I think first and foremost, we need uh, a lot more guidance on a federal level on how to take care of this and Um and and as far as vaccines, treatment, testing, Um, public health and for me, you know, like we we really need that from a federal level and that way they can give guidance to a local level health organizations, Um, and and on a federal level they have lots of resources. They have, you know, resources on how to reach certain populations and, you know, they have, you know, they have teams on how to, you know, target organizations without sigmatizing them and stuff like that. They've been doing it for years with HIV, you know, and they've really the CDC specifically brand investador for the let's fight HIV together. Campaign. You know, it's they have all these resources and these think tanks to Um, go about dealing with public health issues like this in the most appropriate fashion that doesn't stigmatize, you know, groups of people, and we really need that. We need that, that guidance and and and structure. And I think we were just our health care system was caught off guard, even though we could have been prepared, Um, and now everybody's scrambling. So I think, I think that's the first step. Um. I think, you know, people like me like speaking about it and I make it a point in all of my interviews to, you know, like talk about how this is not a sexually transmitted disease. It's something that can be transmitted sexually, Um, and really just a lot of discussion about what uh, community spread means and a isolated fashion, and there just needs to be more education about that. Right. So, like the gay community, we associate with other gay people, we go to the same we got the same clubs, the same restaurants, the same places, uh, and that's why it's in our community right now. It would be no different if church congregation has somebody had monkey pops and they, you know, like gave communion and that whole like that, that whole congregation got monkey pocks and then they took it home to their families and they took it to school and then that, you know, the kids got it and those teachers got it and those teachers took it to the stores. So that whole community was affected. And it doesn't mean that this is at that community infection. It means that it is a isolated community infection, because all of those people are likely to interact with each other. And I think if it's explained this way and if that kind of idea was conveyed better in the media, it would really help with this stigmatization that it's a gay disease that we're just spreading around that it's off all of our fault. Um, I think that would I think I think that's a good place to start. You know, Brian says, or a few things people can do to help prevent...

...the spread of monkey pocks. Some of these measures are more restrictive than others, but all of them apply to everyone, not just the queer community. Starting from, you know, the most restrictive, the best thing that you can do is, you know, either abstain from sex until you can get the monkey pocks virus or only have sex with people that you know, Um, you're, you know, primary partner or other people like that in in small groups. Um, just to clarify that, that's abstain and taken get the vaccine. Correct. Yeah, that's correct. Um. You know, in a perfect world it'd be great if everybody could do that, but everybody's not going to do that and that's not there's a two D of them in Baltimore and all of Baltimore is not going to abstain exactly, and so it's just not realistic. You know, in a perfect world, yeah, it'd be great if people could do that, but we won't and we know that and it's not realistic to expect the UH, you know, the population to do that. If you can, awesome, do it, um, but if you can't, what you can do? If you are going out, like say, you're going out to lots of bars and clubs and restaurants and things like that, uh, you know, if you're going to a place that has a whole bunch of you know, people have their shirts off and people are sweating and people are taking their shirts off. You know, keep you can, keep your clothes on, as unfortunate as that is. Um, keep a clothes on, keep covered a little bit more, uh, you know, trying not to touch as many strangers as as you can. Um, and then, you know, like really good hand hygiene, uh, you can mask in public, would be helpful. This virus can be spread through droplets. It is much less likely, uh, from what most of the data is saying, is that it really takes prolonged respiratory exposure. So you would have to be in a room talking with someone for like an hour to really transfer the virus. But it's very virile in your saliva. So, Um, if you are making if you're kissing, then Um, it's very likely to be transmitted. Um. So you know, kiss less strangers if you can. If you can't, Um, all right, kiss a smaller portion of strangers. Uh, you know, uh, you know there I did a tiktok recently. I think I did it yesterday, about or two days ago, about, Um, some kink attire that you could wear when you go out that you could still feel sexy in and feel kinky and Um, have a little bit more skin coverage. Right. So, like I have a full uh latex cat suit. Um, so it like covers me up to here and, you know, everything exactly, one one bit, wearing one big condom. And so you know, you could wear you could wear garments like that when you go out, neoprene garments you could wear. If you're in the leather, you could wear your full leather when you go out right now. Um, it's just gonna give you some extra skin protection and skin covered. You know, you can use condoms. Uh, they and we know that that's how this spreads, so that you know, that's a way of reducing your chances of transmission. Most likely, are not going to be super effective in preventing this virus because, like I was saying, like once someone has lesions on their body, like it's all over their body. It's not just in their semen or or in their Um, uh, you know, uh anal secretions or rectum it uh, it can be all over. So you could use condoms and they could be beneficial in preventing Um, preventing infection, um, but really it's this this skin to skin contact. So the best thing that I think people could do that are...

...super sexually active and, you know, enjoy that way of life is to do all of the things that you can to reduce your chances of transmission, which are sleeping with a smaller group of people if you can. If you're going to go to the bathhouse, Um, you know you could bring your own towels, bring your own things to sit on, because you know other naked people in those bath houses are sitting on things, sleeping on things, coming on things, and you know that could be some way, a way that you can produce transmission. All of these like just kind of ways that you can put a barrier between your skin and someone else's or other surfaces would be beneficial. Um, and go get vaccinated. And what's funny is everything you just said, although in a lot of ways it pertains to the queer community. All of those things are things that we could do as a community or as a collective right in all sorts of situations. If you are going to the gym and you're sitting in the locker room naked or you're in the steam room, all of those situations, like the the advice you just gave is really applicable to many scenarios that a lot of people do every day. I totally forgot about Jim's like wipe down your equipment before and after. Wipe down them. Very well, that's a great point. I totally forgot to speak about Jim so, and that's something else I think people have to remember is that there's all sorts of others, you know, scenarios that people partake in, physical activity, sports, all sorts of things that have skin to skin contact that, you know, could create an event where monkey box can spread. So I think that's also part of the education. It's like. It's not, even though we're talking about it from a queer perspective, in terms of like nightlife and and being sexually active and things like that. A lot of this, all of it is very applicable to everybody in lots of situations. I think the best way to de stigmatize it is to talk about it right Um, talk about it in an open way. I know that not everyone can be as open about me talking about and sharing with the entire globe that I got monkey pocks having butt sex at a bathhouse in Fort Lauderdale. But Um, we can talk about it openly, we can talk about our fear that we have with others and we can we can talk about, you know, Um, what we're seeing. You know, it's just important that we acknowledge the population it's affecting now. But we know that and we say when we're talking about this that viruses do not discriminate. Viruses do not care if you are gay, straight, by hand, whatever gender you are, identify as, race, creed, economic status. Viruses will affect anyone if they have a chance to. and Um, you know, it's important that every time that we talk about this that we do speak those words and like include that that information, um, because it is a delicate dance to target the correct at risk community right now and also not stigmatized them right. But in order to get that public health information to that community, we have to speak to them. Um. So you know, there there's a lot of things. I think just open conversation, open, you know, Talking Abou at it. I've been lucky enough to have a lot of interviews with...

...media sources that have asked me these exact questions and asked me how can we talk about this without stigmatizing it? Um, and I usually say just by asking that question is the stigmatizing. Yeah, absolutely. I would love it if you could share where everyone can follow you on your journey, or at least catch up on your journey, then go back and watch all of the videos you've created along the monkey pocks road. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, I actually so Um. I predominantly create content on Tiktok. My handle there is at P O Z R N, pause R N. Um. You can also follow me on instagram. I had my handle there is pause, nurse, PO Z UH NURSE AND UM. My twitter handle is positive R N. If you want to backtrack my monkey pox journey, I do have a playlist on my tip talk where all of the videos that I have made from my diagnosis to Um today, all of the videos that I'm still making about content. It's all on a playlist right there. My snapchat handle is pop rumbles, so P U P R you M B L e S. that's Kinky pop rumbles. It is. Yeah, my my sap chat is obviously a little bit more spicy, which is fun too. Yeah, it's Super Fun. Thank you very very much for coming on and I wish you luck with all of the interviews that you have coming up, because you're very busy. So thank you very much. Thank you so much for having me. It really has been a pleasure. I really appreciate it. Be Sure to check out this episode's show notes for links to Brian's social channels, along with current monkey pops information, guidelines and resources. Stay safe out there, FAM and make sure to tune in next week for our episode on the Queer Frontier. Can you walk me through what the process was like last week? Did you sign up for it? Wasn't even available last week. When did these vaccines become more readily available in Arizona, and then what was it like getting it? Is it scary? So it took about two weeks, honestly, for me to get an appointment. I attempted to get into like the first, I would say, publicized in the media in Arizona, because that's rame right now. Um, the first like vaccine event that it was pretty quickly that you went to the website where they essentially said, like, Phil up the survey and we'll tell you if you are eligible and then we'll give you an appointment. By the time I got there, they had locked the survey and it said like, due to overwhelming response, this vaccine event is completely booked. And they had one for Walkins on Wednesday. Um, but from what I had seen on social media the one for Walkins, the line was very long. It's Arizona, so it's a hundred and let's just say a hundred. I'M NOT gonna be dramatic. Who knows how it was, but a hundred not a lot of cover because you're standing outside right waiting for your turn and you could be out there for three hours. They had an event. They started doing the events at night because it's so hot. It would be like five pm to eight PM. It's a little cooler, not direct son. So then I did submit the survey when it became available, but it was not for a specific appointment and we were actually bowling on Friday night and I got a text message that said essentially like you're eligible to request an appointment, and so I very quickly requested one for me for my boyfriend. I sent thing to a couple of friends who also were trying to get it and we all filled out the survey pretty quickly, within minutes of getting the text. and Um, the next day my boyfriend got an appointment. And then, and it gave me like a when I filled out the survey and it asked me like what time could you come for your appointment? And I filled out every day. I was like seven am to eight PM. Two is the time and I'll be there. So, Um, he actually got the first information and it was on a Monday. It...

...was our. Was it his Monday? It was Wednesday. So his was on Wednesday at one fifteen. And then about a day later I got a confirmation that mine was three fifteen. So it was random. Um. And then so when I went to the appointment, I didn't even need a driver's license, which is weird. They didn't. I D me. Um, I basically went into this like I think it might be an lgbt center or something in Phoenix. I'm not sure because it didn't have great signage for that, but as we pulled in there was like signage that said high risk vaccine event, which I imagine is like vaccines for high risk things like monkey pocks. So yeah, so, um I we basically went in. There was like a person at the door and they were like Oh, do you have an appointment? And I was like Yep, and I gave him my name and she goes, Um, okay, great, did you fell out the paperwork? And it's just like a you know, do you have any of these allergies, any of those things, and I did and I handed that to her and she goes okay, stand right here and one of our I can't remember what she called them. I'm just gonna call them shot people. One our shot people will give you your vaccine. So I got on this line. There were like two other people in front of me and, Um Oh, I mean it was it took the seconds for her to be like okay, go to whatever table too, and I went over there and there was a nurse or a person who's qualified to do shots, and she was like left arm or right, and I was like doesn't matter, and she goes not really, it shouldn't be too bad, and so I had to do my left because you never know, and honestly, I think it was not that the covid vaccine is painful, but I do feel like when that needle comes out, you're like, oh, that's a big girl, she's not kidding. Like that one, they bring her out and they're like we're ready, and it's like huge. With that one, it honestly, like Brandon was, like I didn't even feel it by the time she swabbed me and and did the shot and put the band aid on. I didn't really feel when it happened and I felt like it was a very little pinch, very quick band aid. And then they give you this nifty little piece of paper, which I'm gonna show you for miracle but county, I don't know if it's gonna do something weird, but this is my vaccine card for monkey pocks. So then I have to go to like online, to America Dot Gov Slash Monkey pocks to schedule my second dose. They said about four weeks out. But it was honestly very fast, very fast, very easy, not bad, not scary and in comparison, it sounds like, in comparison to the experience that Brian has said that you had in Baltimore with like only two hundred. What was it? Two hundred tests or two. It was two hundred vaccines and I don't remember vaccines available, like just not easy access. And he also talked about the kind of differences, the vast differences amongst different municipalities in different states and how in certain areas they're doing a decent job and in other areas they're not. I guess my question is, do you think that the announcement of the national emerge to see by the Biden Administration allowed for Arizona to, you know, finally act in a swift in a swifter way, in a more organized way? I mean, I obviously am not involved in it, so I can't say that for sure, but I can say that before that happened, the news was like there's a vaccine event with two hundred doses, like it was very tight. People were waiting in long lines outside and it seems like it did correspond with the announcement that it was a national emergency, I think they called it. It was the announcement right. Um, it did seem like that happened. Then that Friday we got the text to sign up for to try to get an appointment and had an appointment by the following Wednesday. Like it did seem like very organized. It wasn't like the fact that I got a text, as opposed to like go to this Google survey and and put all your info in and someone random will reach out to you. It felt much more official, like like it's like...

Americopa county public health either just randomly quickly had more resources, something happened. So I would say maybe they were already planning all this and I didn't know it and this is just like, you know, it's just what was going to happen. But it did feel like that Um being kind of identified as a national emergency created opportunity for people to actually get vaccinated, because it was it was so easy, and it was honestly easier than early on with covid and I get their different viruses and that was a pandemic, but I feel like it was easier for this than that by far. So, but yeah, that's it. It was easy. I loved it. I love my little monkeypox vaccine. I'm so glad you got it and Um, thanks for sharing your experience. I'm sure, UH, some of our audience members will take some good info from that. Yes, well, thanks for listening. Pride is a production of Straw hut media. If you like the show, leave us a reading and a review on Apple podcasts, spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Then follow us on Tiktok, instagram, facebook, twitter and snapchat at pride and tune in weekly for more. Be Sure to share this episode with your friends and subscribe for more stories from Amazing Queer people. If you'd like to connect with me, you can follow me everywhere at leavy chambers. Pride is produced by me Levi Chambers, Frank Driscoll, Maggie Bowls, Ryan Tillottson and Brandon Marlow, edited by Frank Driscoll and Daniel Ferrara.

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