More than 100 members of Congress told President Joe Biden in a letter late last month that the administration needs to do more to support sexual health clinics. Sexual health has been underfunded in the U.S., and physicians at clinics said they're struggling to keep up with patient volume.

"We're just as busy, just as stressed out and living in just as much chaos as at the beginning of Covid," says Ward Carpenter. The Los Angeles LGBT Center has had to shift so much of its staff to respond to the outbreak. It no longer has the capacity for urgent and walk-in care for its patients, Carpenter says.

The center is providing monkeypox vaccinations, testing and treatment on top of its normal services. "We've got people who have nothing to do with this sort of work who have stopped doing their normal jobs," Carpenter says. U.S. health officials designated monkeypox as a national health emergency on Thursday.

Monkeypox is spreading primarily through skin-to-skin contact during sex. STD clinics in major cities across the country are serving as the first line of defense. A surge of patients who need vaccines, testing and treatment for the disease is putting pressure on a system already strapped for resources.

The U.S. has reported more than 7,000 cases of monkeypox across 48 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Since the United Kingdom first alerted the world to the presence of the virus in May, sexual health clinics across the world have been the eyes and ears of public health systems.
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