According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone can get monkeypox, but a “significant portion” of cases in the global outbreak are gay and bisexual men.
“I was fully aware of this for the first time and noticed symptoms on Friday, June 17,” Ford told CNN at his Los Angeles home under a county quarantine order, where he will still have to stay. It is no longer contagious after a few weeks.
He had hoped to go to New York for the Pride last week. “But it’s not in the cards,” he said.
In the video, Ford explains how the virus spreads and shows some of his lesions.
Ford said he vaguely knew about the monkeypox outbreak through Twitter, but didn’t know how close he was to the outbreak until a friend reached out to him and let him know Ford might have been exposed.
Ford said he immediately began a full body check.
“I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before,” said Ford, 30. He said the spots looked like pimples or ingrown hairs, so he went to a clinic in West Hollywood to get tested.
A doctor took a swab and a few days later tested positive for monkeypox, Ford said.
In fact, the test just confirmed it had something new, Ford said. The spots he found no longer looked like pimples.
“They grow fast and fill up,” he says, and they’re painful, especially spots in the most sensitive areas.
He said he also felt like he had the flu.
People with monkeypox may experience fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and feeling tired. He said he also had night sweats, a sore throat and a cough.
Some of the skin was damaged so badly that he went to the doctor, who gave him pain medication
“It’s really convenient because I can finally sleep through the night,” Ford said. “But even the painkillers didn’t completely numb him. It just made me bearable and sent me back to sleep. »
In the video, it’s clear to Ford that he looks straight into the camera and warns others.
“Hi, my name is Matt. I have monkeypox and that shit sucks, you don’t want it,” Ford told his audience.
Bypassing some of his 25 lesions, he showed spots on his face, arms and abs.
“Those are really not cute,” he stressed.
Although the disease is most common in West and Central Africa, the current outbreak has affected countries with few, if any, cases in the past.
The county confirmed in an email to CNN on Thursday that it was issuing quarantine orders to those who tested positive for monkeypox. Ford said it received the county’s notice via email on June 24.
On Friday, Los Angeles County confirmed that some of those cases were among gay and bisexual men. Some of them attended some big events. The county said it was working with organizers to inform attendees of the possible risk.
Since Ford first told friends he had monkeypox, everyone else told him they were sick too.
Worried that too few people knew, Ford came up with the idea to make a TikTok video and share it.
“Since I got it, it’s pretty clear to me that it’s going to spread quickly,” Ford said. “That’s a big reason why I’m trying to speak out and raise awareness about it. »
He said the response to the video was “good.” He was inspired by several people who told him they didn’t know it before and thanked him for spreading the word.
Ford also hopes the video will help end the stigma associated with the disease.
“There shouldn’t be any stigma,” Ford said. “It’s just a bad turning point. »
“A lot of times I think silence is the enemy,” Ford added. “I’m happy to be able to inform people that I hope more people are safe.»