Press release

UNAIDS calls for urgent global response to Monkeypox Public Health Emergency with rights-based public health and equitable access to vaccines

GENEVA, 23 July 2022—UNAIDS today called on governments to respond urgently to the World Health Organization declaration of Monkeypox as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. WHO has received reports over 16 thousand cases in 75 countries. The outbreak is occurring particularly, but not exclusively, among gay men and other men who have sex with men. 

“The World Health Organization has issued an urgent call today based on clear evidence that Monkeypox represents a global threat to the health of communities and requires a global response,” said Dr. Matthew Kavanagh, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director a.i. “This outbreak can be stopped if governments, healthcare providers, communities, and pharmaceutical companies act with urgency. Drawing on the hard-learnt lessons of the response to the AIDS pandemic, effective public health actions must be guided by the principles of solidarity, equality, nondiscrimination and inclusion. The virus, spread through close contact, can affect anyone. But it is currently most impacting gay men and other men who have sex with men, who in many communities face discrimination. Stigma and discrimination undermine epidemic response, sending people with symptoms underground and failing to address the underlying barriers that people face in attempting to protect their own health and that of their community. It can also cause public health authorities to act with insufficient urgency. We urge people to demonstrate compassion to those affected, not discrimination. UNAIDS is urging countries to partner and engage affected communities in the development, implementation, and monitoring of all stages of the response. 

“We are concerned that some low- and middle-income countries are struggling to get access to vaccines being deployed now in high income countries. Repeating vaccine nationalism and inequality will prolong the outbreak and unjustly deepen suffering from this virus.  We call on governments and vaccine manufacturers to work together to ensure that all those in need can access and benefit from vaccines, including people affected in endemic countries.

“UNAIDS would like to acknowledge the leadership of organizations led by communities of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men that, in many countries, have been stepping forward in responding to the outbreak, raising awareness, challenging misinformation and supporting vaccination efforts.”

The Monkeypox outbreak illustrates that communities will continue to face threats from viruses, and that international coordination and solidarity is essential for public health as viruses can only be overcome globally.

UNAIDS urges all media covering Monkeypox to follow the regular updates being issued by WHO.


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Sophie Barton-Knott
tel. +41 79 514 6896

Press centre