Last reviewed: 12 January 2023
Many of the cases are in men who have sex with men and have been acquired overseas, but some cases in NSW have now been identified as community transmission.
You are most likely to acquire MPOX following close skin-to-skin contact with someone who has MPOX and has rashes, lesions or sores. This can happen when you are having sex.
For more about MPOX causes, symptoms and treatment, visit our MPOX Information page here.
MPOX (Monkeypox): Reduce your risk
If you haven't received 2 doses of the MPOX vaccine and are concerned about contracting the virus, consider adopting temporary measures to reduce your risk of exposure to MPOX. These changes in behaviour will help slow the spread of MPOX until the vaccine supply is adequate.
For more about MPOX vaccines and the vaccination program by NSW Health, click here.
Swap contact information with sexual partners
Make a habit of exchanging contact information with any new sexual partner/s at this time. This will assist with any follow-ups regarding sexual heath.
Reduce sexual partners to lessen MPOX exposure
At this time, sexual contact with multiple partners presents a higher likelihood of MPOX transmission. If you haven't received 2 doses of the MPOX vaccine and are concerned about contracting the virus, consider reducing your sexual partners for the time being. This will lessen your risk of exposure to MPOX.
Limit your sexual networks for now
Consider limiting your hook-ups to people you know for the time being if you haven't received 2 doses of the vaccine. Creating a bubble will reduce the likelihood of exposure to MPOX. Remember: this is not forever and that it’s only temporary. But this will help slow the spread of MPOX.
Did you hook up during travels to MPOX hotspots (overseas and/or interstate)?
If you are returned traveller from places with MPOX outbreaks and you hooked up or attended sex parties, saunas or sex clubs while away, get an STI screen when you get home and reduce your hook-ups. It is recommended that you hold off from sex for 14 days so you can monitor your health. If symptoms develop, seek medical attention immediately.
Learn more about MPOX symptoms here.
Hooking up: Reducing your risk during sex
It’s important to be self-aware when it comes to our health so always monitor for symptoms before, during and after sex.
If you or a partner has MPOX, the best way to protect yourself and others is to avoid any skin-to-skin contact, especially with any rash, lesions or sores. Self-isolate and seek medical attention immediately.
Here are some safe sex strategies to reduce your risk of MPOX to consider:
* Use virtual methods (eg. phone, webcam) with no person-to-person contact
* Masturbate together without touching each other. Do not touch any sores or rash
* Reduce as much skin-to-skin contact as possible by leaving on clothing
* Avoid kissing or spit
* Avoid sharing sex toys
* Be aware that MPOX can also spread through respiratory secretions with close, face-to-face contact.
* Use a condom during sex for at least 8 weeks after recovery from MPOX
* Practice good hygiene after sex such as washing your hands, sex toys
* Exchange contact information with your sexual partners to assist with contact tracing if needed.
Going out: Reducing your risk at festivals, clubs and parties
There are simple steps you can take before venturing out to help protect yourself and your community:
* Seek information from trusted sources like local health authorities – particularly when travelling interstate and overseas.
* Check yourself for symptoms before you leave home. If you feel unwell or sick, or have any rashes or sores, do not attend event or venues. Self-isolate and seek medical attention.
Consider the type of event you are planning to attend and how much direct skin-to-skin contact is likely to happen:
* Events such as festivals and concerts where people are fully clothed and unlikely to have skin-to-skin contact, are low risk. But remember that close physical contact such as kissing may spread MPOX.
* Events such as a party or club where there is less clothing worn, and therefore a higher likelihood of direct skin-to-skin contact, has some risk. Avoid any rashes or sores you see on others and minimise skin-to-skin to contact.
* Events held in enclosed spaces such as sex parties, saunas and sex-on-premises venues, where there is intimate sexual contact with multiple partners occurs, carry a higher risk of MPOX transmission.
Learn more about what to do if you think you have been exposed to MPOX here.
If you have been identified as a close contact ...
If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for MPOX, you will receive a call from NSW Health’s Public Health Unit.
Follow the Public Health Unit’s recommendations, including instructions on limiting your movements, and if and when and how to attend a health service for review.
Those deemed to be high risk close contacts should not engage in any sexual activity for 21 days after their exposure.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624.
If you are planning to travel overseas ...
If you are planning to travel overseas, it is important to stay informed and remain aware of developments:.
* Get vaccinate if you are able. People travelling locations with known MPOX outbreaks are considered at high risk and are eligible to get the vaccine. Be sure you allow enough time to get two doses before travel.
* Follow public health alerts and advice from local health authorities of the countries you are visiting.
* Keep alert of any event updates (before and after) from organisers if you are visiting festivals or large events.
* Be aware and exercise caution if you plan to attend sex parties or SOPVs, particularly in places where there are identified cases of MPOX. If attending these, consider adopting safe sex strategies to reduce your risk of MPOX transmission.
* Visit WHO for an updated list of affected destinations.
* Visit Smart Traveller for travel alerts.
You can reduce your risk of contracting MPOX overseas:
* Avoid contact, including sexual contact, with people who are unwell or have MPOX symptoms.
* Avoid skin-to-skin contact, particularly with any rash, lesions or sores.
* Avoid contact with clothing, bedding or objects that have been in contact with or used by people with MPOX.
* Always practice good hygiene.
If you develop any symptoms overseas, self-isolate and seek local medical attention immediately.
If you have contracted MPOX ...
People who have contracted MPOX should not engage in any sexual activity while infectious.
Avoid kissing and touching each other’s bodies – especially any rash or sores.
Do not share things like sex toys or fetish gear during this time.
And because it is not known how long MPOX remains present in semen and other genital excretions, people who have recovered should use condoms for eight weeks after recovery. This is a precaution to reduce the risk of spreading infection to sexual partners.
Stay self-aware of your health and monitor for symptoms
ACON advises our communities to regularly monitor for symptoms such as unusual rashes, lesions or sores or a fever, muscle aches or swollen lymph nodes. This is particularly important if you have attended any gatherings involving skin-to-skin contact with other people, have had close physical contact with others including sexual encounters, or if you have recently returned from travel to locations (international or domestic) with known cases of MPOX.
If you develop any symptoms, self-isolate and seek medical attention immediately.
If you think you might have symptoms of MPOX, please call ahead to your GP or local sexual health clinic. Wear a mask when attending the clinic.
If you have questions about MPOX, contact the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624.
You can also visit:
- ACON – MPOX Information for LGBTQ+ Communities
- ACON – MPOX Vaccination Information for LGBTQ+ Communities
- NSW Health: Monkeypox Information Hub