WVa group begins monkeypox education efforts in Appalachia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia nonprofit group said Monday it has received $100,000 in grants for monkeypox vaccination and education efforts among people LGTBQ in 13 Appalachian states.

The community education group received grants of $50,000 each from Gilead Sciences and ViiV Healthcare to develop and distribute materials, provide grants and host meetings aimed at reducing cultural stigma and barriers related to the virus, said the group in a press release.

CEG will create and distribute digital monkeypox resource guides to more than 300 Appalachian health departments, as well as rural healthcare associations and LGBTQ groups.

CEG will also be accepting applications for mini-grants from organizations in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, the statement said.

The virus has mainly spread among gay and bisexual men, although health officials continue to stress that anyone can be infected.

“One of the things we’re doing with monkeypox is we’re asking people to have a conversation with a population of people that they can’t normally engage with,” said the president and founder of CEG, A. Toni Young, in a telephone interview. “And a lot of them want to have that conversation but just don’t know how.”

CEG wanted to be able to provide a toolkit “so that people actually feel safe and free to access care and services from our county health departments,” she said.

The community education group, founded in 1994, is based in the Hardy County community of Lost City, with offices in Washington. He works to eliminate disparities in health outcomes and improve public health in disadvantaged populations and underserved communities.

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