Study Finds Severe Monkeypox Disease Mostly in Men With Advanced HIV

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An especially severe form of monkeypox has been found by researchers to have a higher risk of severe complications and death among men with advanced HIV or AIDS, according to a study published in The Lancet.

According to the research team, monkeypox, or mpox, has had a considerable impact on men who have HIV and low CD4 cell counts. The current evidence also shows that all 96 monkeypox deaths have occurred only in people with HIV.

The researchers named the severe form of monkeypox “fulminant mpox,” and found that it caused large, decaying sores on the skin and genitals, and sometimes even the lungs. The study’s lead author, Oriol Mitja of Spain’s Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital, shared graphic images of the severe disease on Twitter.

Patients with the lowest count of CD4 cells, which are a type of white blood cell that indicates a patient’s immune system’s health, typically had the most severe lesions and other symptoms, according to the study.

HIV destroys CD4 cells. A person without HIV is considered healthy if their CD4 count is above 500 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. People are diagnosed with AIDS when their CD4 count is below 200, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While monkeypox has historically been prevalent in several African countries, it began spreading globally in May 2022 largely among men who have sex with men. The study highlighted the importance of early diagnosis and treatment in this vulnerable population.

According to data from the World Health Organization, there have been more than 86,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox across 110 countries since the outbreak began, resulting in 96 deaths as of Feb. 22.

The research team looked at what happens when people with HIV and low CD4 cell counts (less than 350 cells per cubic millimeter) get monkeypox, and what the effects are.

The study revealed that individuals with HIV, mostly men, have made up 38–50 percent of the total number of cases in the 2022 multi-country outbreak of monkeypox.

By Caden Pearson

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