Albany County monkeypox patient wants to raise awareness to help others

ALBANY COUNTY – Aaron’s symptoms began last week with an extremely high fever, night sweats, chills, and body aches. A couple of days later, he got some marks that looked like acne.

NewsChannel 13 is using only his first name. He is the first official case of monkeypox in Albany County.

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“I think it’s really important that the more awareness we can bring to it, the sooner we can hopefully kind of halt the process of the spread,” he said.

Aaron says finding testing was difficult.

“That’s something that really frustrated me. I looked online at the Department of Health website. They say there’s testing available, and it just really wasn’t out there. I looked for links, I looked for places doing testing, and it was really frustrating because I really couldn’t find anywhere.”

He wishes the vaccine, which research shows may help prevent severe symptoms, was more available.

“I would love the public to know even more about monkeypox in general so they can keep others safe. So far, I think with my case being reported in Albany, I’ve seen a lot more friends sharing articles on Facebook about different symptoms to look out for, ways to keep others safe, and I think that’s been really great. and that’s why from the beginning I’ve been up front and open about it on Facebook because I just don’t want others to go through what I’m going through now.”

Gay advocates say education is key, as most of the cases at the moment are gay and bisexual men, but that everyone should really be thinking of monkeypox as simply a skin to skin disease, separate from sexual orientation.

“We have to think about it in non-sexual terms because that’s truly what it is,” said Nathaniel Gray, Executive Director of the Pride Center of the Capital Region. “We have to move it away from our community, the LGBTQ community, and I think the reason I keep drawing parallels to the AIDS crisis is that’s what we saw. We had someone in an administration say something like this affects gay people, it doesn’t matter! And then it suddenly it affects everybody else.”

“I think that I would add that we have the opportunity to do better. We have historical relevance to this within our own community with HIV and AIDS. We’ve all, listening to this right now, have our own recent historical relevance with the COVID crisis, and now we know from all of the mistakes we made over the last two and a half years that the things that work are testing and vaccinations. And we need to make sure we learn that lesson and do it quickly before we get to a place where this becomes endemic, and we are regularly talking all summer about people getting monkeypox or kids need a next vaccine for monkeypox because that’s become the new thing we’re dealing with again.”

As for treatment, Aaron says he had to have a friend go down to NYC and bring back the medication he needs because it’s not available in this area.