Jack Barlow shares his experience of contracting Monkeypox

The Australian government is working to distribute the vaccine for the monkeypox virus to high risk populations around the country, but for Sydney based Jack Barlow the government response has been too slow.

Barlow was diagnosed with the virus after returning from a recent trip to the USA. He spoke to ABC News, SBS and the Sydney Morning Herald about his experience.

Barlow said friends in the USA had suggested he try to get the vaccine before heading off on his trip, but it was not available in Australia at that time. After contracting the virus he now faces up to 21 days in isolation.

“Before I left a friend of mine in the USA and he essentially sent me a warning text message saying ‘Don’t come unless you can get your hands on this vaccine.’ Unfortunately it wasn’t an option, and it wasn’t something covered by health advice at the time.” Barlow told ABC News.

Barlow said as he travelled across the USA the virus was the most common topic of discussion among the LGBTIQA+ communities he visited, and people were lining up for hours to try and get vaccinated.

“Australia’s response is really just starting we have not hit the same kind of crisis point that the they have.” Barlow said.

He welcomed the announcement that Australia has now obtained a large number of vaccines to distribute to high risk populations, but said for the first two months where cases of the virus were spreading across the world the Australian government’s response has been slow.

“You look outwards and you hear your friends overseas talking about, and panicking, about this virus, it was strange to look back here where it didn’t seem to be something on the national radar.” Barlow said.

Barlow is currently a staffer for a City of Sydney Councilor, and has previously worked for a Liberal party senator. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald Barlow said his criticism of the government’s response would have been the same if a Liberal government had been in power.

The virus which is usually only seen in specific areas of Africa has been spreading across the world for several months. The first Australian case was reported in May.

Cases have been predominantly found within the LGBTIQA+ communities, but experts have stressed that the infection is not specifically sexually transmitted, and everybody is susceptible.

There has been concern that stigma and discrimination surrounding those who contract the virus will hamper efforts to tackle the spread of infections.

Learn more about the Monkeypox Virus at HealthyWA. 

OIP Staff

Declaration: Jack Barlow contributed an article to OUTinPerth in 2014. 

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