A gay actor has become the first American monkeypox victim to go public, writing about his terrifying experience with the virus that causes painful lesions all over the body.
Matt Ford, who stars in an upcoming thriller called “Beauty Marc,” wrote about his experience in a first-person article for BuzzFeed, where he previously worked on the video team. He said he learned he got the dreaded virus when a friend in Los Angeles, with whom he’d had unspecified skin-on-skin contact, reached out to him.
“On Friday, June 17, that quickly changed. “I received a call from a friend in LA who informed me that he had tested positive for monkeypox and that I might have been exposed the weekend prior via skin-to-skin contact,” Ford wrote. “Sure enough, I checked myself for spots and noticed a couple of lesions in the underwear zone.”
Monkeypox PSAhttps://t.co/yWfVLk8rwz pic.twitter.com/GCCPZoQ5cw
— Matt Ford (@JMatthiasFord) June 27, 2022
In a TikTok video, Ford blasted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for not doing more to stop monkeypox (information he says he learned from his doctor), which has been around for decades, but recently flared up in hotspots around the world. More than 300 Americans are believed to have contracted monkeypox.
“As of now, it seems to be primarily affecting queer men, but it can easily spread to anyone,” Ford said.
In addition to “really f***ing painful” lesions, Ford described symptoms that include fever, chills, a cough, sore throat, and flu-like aches.
Ford first revealed he had monkeypox on social media, then wrote the BuzzFeed post which is accompanied by a video of him detailing his ordeal.
“I’m a proud openly gay man, and I split my time between Los Angeles and New York,” he wrote. “I decided last week to speak out about my case on social media to hopefully curb more infections ahead of New York Pride.”
Ford says he seems to be getting better – slowly.
“The flu-like symptoms abated slowly,” he wrote. “By Friday, a week after I’d first detected lesions, I felt mostly normal — at least, besides the lesions, which continued to appear. To date, I have counted more than 25, and they’re all over: on my arms, legs, hands, feet, and scalp.”
The virus was first discovered in 1958 among research monkeys, but spread to humans in the early 1970s. While extremely rare and not easily transmitted, the ongoing outbreak has been traced to gay sexual activity at two recent raves in Europe, according to the World Health Organization.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is planning to rename monkeypox “as soon as possible,” amid claims the existing name is racist and discriminatory to Africa. Monkeypox is not fatal and there are vaccines available.