National campaign to raise awareness of monkeypox

By Emen8, updated 1 year ago in Health / Sexual health

Australian LGBTQ community members feature in Emen8's national monkeypox campaign

Emen8’s latest national campaign raises awareness of monkeypox in Australia to help prevent outbreak.

Our campaign, Prick – Pause – Play, features messages around knowing the symptoms, risk factors, prevention strategies and the importance of getting the vaccine.

Emen8 is a national online sexual health and wellbeing resource for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) delivered in partnership between ACON and Thorne Harbour Health.

Monkeypox (also known as MPOX, MPX or MPXV), is a viral infection that causes a rash. It is spread by skin-to-skin contact including during sex. Since May 2022, there has been a global increase in MPOX cases reported from multiple countries where MPOX is not usually seen. Anyone can get MPOX, but most of the cases are in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

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ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said the community-led campaign will help reach those most at-risk of MPOX by delivering tailored messages.

So far we have not seen a rapid spread of the virus in Australia, however, with the warmer months and forthcoming pride events, case numbers may very well increase. So it’s important that we continue to raise awareness of MPOX along with strategies to prevent infection including getting the vaccine,” Parkhill said.

We hope this campaign will further engage our communities on staying safe and, ultimately, minimising the spread of MPOX in Australia.

man checks for monkeypox symptoms in nightclub bathroom mirror

Featuring community members from a diverse range of backgrounds and lifestyles, Prick – Pause – Play will be a digital-first campaign, appearing across popular social media channels, search engines, and gay, bisexual and MSM hook-up apps. The campaign also includes digital banners, videos and a set of posters and printed collateral for LGBTQ venues and hubs.

The campaign’s bold visuals command attention from a post-COVID, vaccine-fatigued audience and deliver timely health information. When our communities see themselves and their lives reflected in an upbeat message – that resonates with them,” said Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth.

While MPOX can affect anyone, the reality is that our communities of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are being disproportionally impacted. So far, we’ve seen promising vaccine uptake in parts of Australia with the highest number of cases, but now is the time for everyone to Prick – Pause – Play.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd said: “To ensure the overall effectiveness and reach of a campaign, it’s vital that health bodies work directly with impacted communities. In developing the Prick – Pause – Play campaign with ACON, Thorne Harbour Health and Emen8, we have been able to create highly-targeted, culturally relevant messaging that speaks directly to LGBTQ communities to raise awareness of MPOX, the vaccine and how we can prevent a major outbreak.

man stands alone in nightclub

Parkhill added: “We encourage everyone in our communities not to become complacent as we head into summer and make sure they are fully vaccinated soon as they are able.

Our communities have always been proactive in taking measures to protect our collective health and we have seen that recently by the strong uptake of the vaccine. People should continue taking steps to prevent them contracting MPOX. And if you develop any symptoms, particularly an unusual rash, lesions or sores, seek medical attention by calling ahead to your GP or local sexual health clinic.

The campaign has been funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.