By Camille Ducrocq
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“I’m much better”, launches from the outset CorentinWednesday July 6, 2022. Ten days ago, the 27-year-old young man, author and director for a young theater company in Paris, did not hold the same speech. “Excruciating” pain when walking, sitting, sleeping… This is what his daily life looked like for several days. Corentin was infected with monkey pox.
One week from first symptoms to diagnosis
It all starts a few days before June 21. Of the fever outbreaks and aches push him to get tested for Covid-19. The test is negative. Then, “lesions appeared in the anal mucosa, extremely painful, which I first took for hemorrhoids”, he says. He continues somehow to “live” his life and see friends.
But the pain lingering, he decides to go to emergencies in a Paris hospital three days later. “They took classic samples from me and, as a precaution, they added that for monkeypox” because the virus “was circulating quite a bit at that time”, explain the caregivers to him. “It’s the first time I heard that it was a possibility,” admits Corentin.
The diagnosis falls four days later, a week after the onset of the first symptoms: it is indeed the monkeypox. The hospital then gives him the instructions to follow: self-isolate for three weeks and cover up with long clothes and wear a mask when he goes shopping. “As there is no treatment, I was told that the day I had no more lesions or pimples, I would be considered cured. »
Do not mix
Corentin’s first reaction to the announcement of the diagnosis: astonishment.
At no time did I think this was going to be it. I had heard a little about it when there were the first cases. But that quickly faded into the background. There was no information about the virus, its symptoms, its routes of contamination, no prevention, it never came into play. Maybe if I had been better informed before, I would have been tested earlier and I would have isolated myself before, without taking the risk of seeing friends.
Then, anger settles down. On July 6, then isolated at home for several days, he decided, in a Twitter thread, to testify: “I have very revered monkeypox (…) The opportunity for me to do a little prevention, friends. es from what the hospital told me,” he wrote in a first tweet.
“I saw a lot of nonsense, untruths, panicked people… I said to myself that as a patient, I had received the right information from the hospital and from Santé Publique France. I made these tweets to be transparent, to explain how you catch it, to remind you to be careful and above all do not mix“, he insists.
Indeed, while the majority of known cases concern men who have had sex with men (MSM), Corentin reminds us that monkeypox does not only affect this community because monkeypox is not not a sexually transmitted infection (IST). It is through contact with the mucous membranes or lesions of an infected person that one can be contaminated. “You can get it from the sheets, the dishes… There have been cases in women and children. »
Victim of a wave of homophobia
His tweets had an “unprecedented” impact which he “didn’t expect”. “In the process, I received messages from people who told me they had the same symptoms as me. I did not make a diagnosis because I am not a doctor, but I referred them to the emergency room, ”he says. It turned out that several people were carriers of the virus.
In this wave of responses, he also received “a torrent of mud” and “hundreds” of homophobic messages. “I was not particularly surprised,” he says, referring to what happened 40 years ago with the discovery of AIDS. “It’s quite revealing that mentalities have not changed,” he laments.
Nonetheless, he don’t regret anything and continued to expose oneselfespecially through the media.
If I do it, it’s also because I believe in putting faces to the disease. I’m not ashamed of having caught monkeypox. Already, because there is no shame in catching any disease. If it can also carry this message of lack of prevention, if it can help some people feel guilty, then I will continue to do so.
A targeted campaign
This is where the anger and indignation of the young author and director mainly lie: the lack information and prevention on monkeypox. In particular, he places the blame on public authorities who, according to him, would take too long to react “for fear of stigmatization, of discrimination” towards the homosexual community, “which I find totally stupid”.
” We need to talk without taboo, he acknowledges. We all remember what happened with HIV, we can’t bother with that, otherwise we’ll waste time. He is campaigning for the establishment of a “targeted campaign”, especially in strategic places, such as nightclubs and bars.
“You have to be both informative and educational, saying ‘Be careful, you are an at-risk category’, while emphasizing that anyone can be affected. Because if we act according to homophobes, then we don’t do anything anymore, ”he breathes. According to him, it is a disease that can “be quickly eradicated, just put the package”.
For his part, Corentin continues to be particularly active on Twitter, “I have become the monkey pox referent”, he laughs. In terms of health, “the pain is almost gone, I’m starting to heal,” says the young man. He has about ten days left in solitary confinement.
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