A leading epidemiologist has claimed that monkeypox will now be a permanent condition in the US after publicly describing it as a sexually transmitted infection (STI) “entrenched” in the population.

Weill Cornell Medical School’s Dr Jay Varma believes that monkeypox will carry on spreading across the country because the initial symptoms of the virus are hard to detect. A lack of STI testing also accelerates the spread of the disease, Dr Varma has reported.

More than 240 cases of monkeypox have been identified in the US, with it set to rise over the coming weeks.

According to experts, there are also hundreds of cases of monkeypox in the community that are yet to be recorded. Officials have reported that monkeypox spreads through skin-to-skin contact during sex.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that it will not declare the spread of monkeypox as a global health crisis.

Dr Varma told the New York Times: “Other experts and I fear that monkeypox will exploit this vulnerability [of a lack of testing] and become a permanently entrenched STI in the United States.

“’Initial skin changes in this outbreak often appear innocuous and can occur in locations that are easy to miss, such as inside the anus.”

He added: “’Nevertheless, these lesions are highly contagious and can even contaminate surfaces or materials such as towels, which can spread infection to other people.

“The skin changes can also mimic of those of other infections, such as herpes, molluscum or syphilis, so monkeypox can be easily misdiagnosed by someone not expert in evaluating STIs.”

He concluded: “While there is some debate among epidemiologists about whether to call monkeypox ‘sexually transmitted’ versus ‘sexually transmissible,’ it is reasonable to consider that sex is one activity that transmits infection, similar to other infections that are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact during sex, like herpes, syphilis and the human papillomavirus.”

Meanwhile, cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea are rising at a rapid pace, medical data has shown. Specialists blame this on COVID-19 preventing people from having tests.

Internationally, around 4,000 people in 60 different countries have been infected with the condition.

The WHO committee has stated: “While a few members expressed differing views, the committee resolved by consensus to advise the WHO director-general that at this stage the outbreak should be determined to not constitute.”

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