The World Health Organization plans to start referring to monkeypox as mpox in an effort to avoid racial stigmatization that has developed with the use of the monkeypox name, according to a news release.
Both names are to be used simultaneously for one year while monkeypox is phased out, and WHO is encouraging others to make the same change. "It's very important we find a new name for monkeypox because this is best practice not to create any offence to an ethical group, a region, a country, an animal, etc.," WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib told Reuters in August, soon after the organization undertook an effort to rename the disease.
Today, HHS announced it will adopt the @WHO’s new preferred term “mpox” instead of monkeypox disease and will use it from now on to avoid stigma around the disease and further promote access to quality care.https://t.co/uRYvqW9NuH— HHS.gov (@HHSGov) November 28, 2022
An outbreak of the disease earlier this year got people talking about it, and WHO observed racist and stigmatizing language related to the virus online, in other settings, and in some communities. After individuals and countries contacted the organization to change the name, WHO sought comments from the public, which included suggestions for a new name. The internet being what it is, submissions included Poxy McPoxface and TRUMP-22.
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But WHO wisely settled on mpox, something less meme-like, which was submitted by Samuel Miriello, director of men's health organization Rezo in Montreal.
Human monkeypox was given its name in 1970 after the virus that causes the disease was discovered in captive monkeys years earlier. 2022 marked the largest global outbreak of the rare disease, spreading primarily among gay and bisexual men in countries beyond West and Central Africa, where the disease is endemic.