California State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) was interviewed Thursday by The Washington Post about the response to his state’s monkeypox outbreak and said that people have to make their own decisions about having sex.
The Democratic state senator is heavily involved in San Francisco’s monkeypox response, a city that has reported rising cases in recent weeks, even as it hosted a street fetish festival celebrating gay sex.
“If people want to have sex, they are going to have sex,” Wiener said. “I know people who normally go to sex parties who will not. People will make their own decisions about their own risk levels.”
Wiener also joined CBS Bay Area Thursday to discuss President Joe Biden’s public health emergency declaration over the monkeypox outbreak. Wiener celebrated Biden’s move, saying it would “open up public resources” to combat the disease.
When asked if he saw society as a whole shifting in their response to monkeypox, Wiener responded, “Yes, among gay men, we’re seeing a lot of decisions.”
The state senator elaborated on that point, explaining that he went to the recent San Francisco fetish festival, called Dore Alley, and saw a lower turnout than usual. “I know someone who was working the door at one of the sex parties the weekend of Dore, and attendance was down by 50%, and I’ve heard that about some of the other sex parties as well,” Wiener commented.
The Dore Alley festival held last weekend was expected to bring thousands of people into the city’s SoMa area and featured kink demonstrations, dancing, and shopping, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The city reported 424 monkeypox cases as of Wednesday, a 65% increase from the previous week.
While monkeypox is not spread exclusively through sex, the disease is infecting gay men at a far higher rate than any other demographic. A new report from California showed that 91.7% of monkeypox cases in the state are in “[g]ay, lesbian, or same gender loving people,” while men make up 98.3% of all infections, The Daily Wire reported.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox can spread through skin to skin contact that often happens through hugging, kissing, extended face-to-face contact, and sexual intercourse. Symptoms include fever, headache, cough, sore throat, and nasal congestion. The disease can also cause painful rashes and blisters.