Hispanic and Latinx communities disproportionally hit by Mpox in the Bay Area

New numbers from San Francisco and Santa Clara County show just how hard monkeypox, or mpox, is hitting the Hispanic and Latinx communities. Both regions say they are working to get their limited vaccine supplies to the people who need them most.

In the early stages of any pandemic, it is hard for public health experts to determine which group could be hit the hardest.  But with plenty of COVID-era lessons under the belt, the current mpox trends are a top priority issue for health authorities.  

"It is fundamentally important that we understand who is being impacted by this outbreak," said Dr. Sarah Rudman, the deputy health officer in Santa Clara County. 

In Santa Clara County the Hispanic and Latinx community is by far the hardest hit group: 55 percent of the reported cases are in that group compared to 20 percent for whites, 9 percent for Asians and five percent for black people. 

"We know that right now Mpox in Santa Clara County is disproportionally impacting Latinx men, especially gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men," Dr. Rudman said.   "It is important we know that, so we make sure our work to get health care, information, and vaccination is focused on serving those same populations."

"The Latinx community is very tight-knit and because of housing being so expensive a lot of people are sharing housing and that is one of the ways it can be spread," said Gabrielle Antolovich, board president of San Jose’s Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ community center.

In San Francisco, whites are most impacted at 46 percent but Hispanic and Latinx communities still make up 28 percent of cases,  Asians represent nine percent and Blacks have six percent of cases.  

"So when we see the high positivity rate it is an alarm that we are working to address," said Ivan Corado-Vega with San Francisco’s Latino Task Force. "Health disparities have always existed in the Latino community. So it is really sad to see that here we are with another health issue that is impacting our community disproportionately."

The task force is a group of 40 community organizations originally formed to help with the response to Covid and now applying some of the same strategies to mpox.  

"What we want to do is we want to make access to Mpox services and vaccination low barrier to no barrier. So what that requires is doing outreach to our community in a language that is familiar to them and with people who are from their neighborhood," Corrado-Vega said. 

While the demographic data will help target the impacted, communities say a key focus remains on vaccine supply.  As of Monday morning, Santa Clara County health officials and providers in the county have administered 5,856 doses of the Mpox vaccine. Santa Clara County is currently using an injection technique that allows smaller doses so more people can be vaccinated.