SF’s Latinx population disproportionately affected

Community advocates blamed a lack of vaccine supplies, poor language-based services and unclear communication from the San Francisco Department of Public Health as the primary reasons why the city’s Latinx community has been hardest hit by the monkeypox virus.

Latinos represent 15 percent of the city’s population, but as of July 18, comprised 30 percent of monkeypox cases, the Department of Public Health said at a Thursday hearing at City Hall on monkeypox in San Francisco.

“It feels like there’s less urgency and less communication compared to Covid-19,” Santiago Garzon, who works for the Instituto Familiar de la Raza, told Mission Local. Garzon, who is a youth advocate at the nonprofit dedicated to promoting and enhancing the health and well-being of San Francisco’s Latinx community, has personally witnessed the impact of the city’s poor communication and vaccine shortages.

“We have a lot of people coming and asking us where we can get the vaccine,” Garzon said, noting that some of the people coming in are also sex workers or immunocompromised. “Not having enough information is one of the largest challenges we face.”

Misinformation and a lack of educational materials in Spanish and other languages, combined with pre-existing stigma, has had a “snowball effect” on those who are Latinx and identify as LGBTQ+, Garzon said.

The Latinx community also suffered disproportionately during the pandemic, representing more than 50 percent of all cases at different times.

Garzon wasn’t the only one dismayed by the messaging and language barriers in the health department’s communications.

Valerie Tulier-Laiwa, who is on the executive committee of the Latino Task Force, told Mission Local that she has not seen nearly as much outreach in Spanish as she has seen in English.

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