Monkeypox information for gay, bisexual men, and men who have sex with men

Including what monkeypox is, who is most at risk of infection, and who is being offered the vaccine

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that usually causes a high temperature (fever) and a body rash that lasts a few weeks.

Anyone can get monkeypox. However, currently most of the cases across Europe and the UK have been in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM).

Read further information about monkeypox, including symptoms and what to do if you're worried you may have it

How can you reduce your risk of getting monkeypox?

You can get monkeypox through close skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the infection, such as during sex. The more partners you have, the more likely you are to get it.

Read more about how monkeypox is passed on and how you can lower your risk of getting it

Vaccination to help protect against monkeypox

Monkeypox is caused by a virus similar to the one that causes smallpox. So vaccines designed for smallpox are considered effective against monkeypox.

Who is being offered the vaccine?

The vaccine is recommended for people whose sexual networks means they are more likely to come into contact with monkeypox. These include:

  • GBMSM who have multiple partners, take part in group sex, attend sex on premises venues, or have had a bacterial STI such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea or syphilis in the past year
  • some trans and non-binary people who are in similar sexual networks to GBMSM
  • some healthcare workers in high-risk settings where they may care for a patient with monkeypox

How will people who are eligible be offered the vaccine?

Scotland’s sexual health services are now contacting people who are most at risk right now, to offer vaccination. This may be discussed by phone or at your next appointment, for example for PrEP or hepatitis B.

There's currently a limited supply of the MVA vaccine in Scotland and across the globe. So it's being offered to those at most risk right now to help protect them. If you’re in an eligible group, you’ll be contacted by your sexual health clinic as soon as a vaccine is available for you.

If you haven’t been to a sexual health service before and you think you may be eligible, please contact them to discuss.

As more supplies become available, more people will be offered a first dose. Your patience is appreciated at this busy time.

Getting the vaccine is your best protection against monkeypox, so it’s important that you get vaccinated when it’s offered to you.

Who is not eligible for the vaccine?

The vaccine is not being offered to GBMSM unless they are in sexual networks with multiple partners, participating in group sex or attending sex on premises venues. Other GBMSM and most other LGBTQ and straight individuals will have a much lower risk of coming into close contact with someone with monkeypox infection. So they won’t be offered the vaccine unless their individual circumstances put them at particular risk.

If you think your risk has changed at any time, contact your local sexual health service.

Read about vaccination to help protect against monkeypox

What to do if you think you’ve been in contact with someone with monkeypox

If you think you’ve been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox or who is displaying symptoms, contact your GP or sexual health clinic right away. They’ll advise you on what to do next.

You may be contacted by an NHS Scotland contact tracer if you’re identified as a close contact of someone who has monkeypox. Contact tracing can help break chains of transmission in the community. It’s important that you follow the advice the contact tracer gives you in order to protect your own health and the health of others.

If you’re identified as a close contact of someone who has monkeypox, you may also be offered the vaccine.

Further information and support

We have worked in partnership with the following to develop this information. You can visit their websites for further information and support.