Respondents who describe themselves as gay or bisexual are particularly concerned about the monkeypox outbreak and have a more negative view of the US government’s response than heterosexuals, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. Men who describe themselves as gay or bisexual are also more likely to say they have received the monkeypox vaccine or plan to get the vaccine.
The United States declared monkeypox a public health emergency on August 4 as cases spread across the country after the case was first reported on May 17. The vast majority of reported cases of monkeypox have been among men who have sex with men. Members of the LGBTQ community have expressed frustration with the government’s response to the outbreak, including the limited availability of vaccines to prevent the disease.
The Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand Americans’ views on the monkeypox outbreak. Responses come from the Center’s survey of 10,588 US adults conducted September 13-18, 2022.
All survey participants are members of the Center for American Trends (ATP), an online survey panel selected through a national random sampling of residential addresses. Thus, almost all American adults have a choice. The survey is weighted to be representative of the US adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisanship, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP methodology.
Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with the answers and its methodology.
Among American adults, broadly similar shares say the country did an excellent or good job (35%) or only a fair or poor job (36%) in responding to the monkeypox outbreak, while another 29% say they are not sure of that. in the Center’s new survey.
However, attitudes differ considerably between gay and bisexual men. Among that group, about a third (34%) say the country has done an excellent or good job of handling the outbreak, while about half (49%) say it has done only a fair or poor job. Strategic men are evenly divided in their assessments.
The vast majority of Americans have heard at least a little about the monkeypox outbreak (94%). Gay or lesbian adults are especially likely to hear more. Among this group, 40% say they have heard or read a lot or quite a bit about the monkeypox outbreak, compared to 29% of heterosexual adults. (See the document above for more details.)
Nearly three-quarters of US adults (73%) say the monkeypox outbreak is a public health threat in the US, including 19% who say it is a major threat. Most gay or lesbian adults and bisexual adults (85% each) say the outbreak is at least a minor threat to public health.
Gay or bisexual men (83%) are more likely than heterosexual men (67%) to see the monkeypox outbreak as at least a minor threat to public health in the US. About three-quarters of gay or bisexual men (74%) also say a monkeypox outbreak is at least a minor threat to their personal health, compared with 42% of straight men.
About two-thirds of gay or bisexual men (66%) say they will definitely or probably get the monkeypox vaccine to prevent the disease, including one in ten who say they have already done so. This compares to about one-third of US adults (34%).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the monkeypox vaccination for those who have been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox; for men who have sex with men; and for those who have had sex with multiple partners in recent weeks, among others.
In a separate question in the Center’s new survey, 38% of gay or bisexual men say they have taken some kind of action to reduce their risk of contracting the monkeypox virus. (Read top row for more details.)
Note: Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with the answers and its methodology.
Giancarlo Pasquini is a research associate focusing on research on science and society at the Pew Research Center.
Cary Funk is director of research on science and society at the Pew Research Center.