Sexual health

Douchie’s guide to a Folsom Street Fair without fear of MPX (monkeypox)

Folsom is here, but so is MPX (monkeypox). Here are some ideas to reduce your risk, and still enjoy your favorite kink & fetish festival in San Francisco.

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We’re gearing up for an exciting return of our favorite street festival in San Francisco: Folsom Street Fair, where you’ll get your fill of hot hairy daddies, hungry pigs, BDSM babes, and kinks of all kinds. We’ve heard from people who are worried about attending events out of fear of contracting MPX. If you partake in the festivities, here are Douchie’s hot tips for a fun and filthy weekend — free of anxiety.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of ways to reduce risk. You may choose to use one or two of these suggestions — or none at all. And, a quick reminder to remember COVID-19 precautions, and to get vaccinated for meningitis if you haven’t already. Douchie hopes that you have a happy and healthy Folsom!

Get vaccinated

Get vaccinated if you can. We know the Jynneos vaccine can be difficult to access–supplies of the vaccine are low nationwide. In San Francisco, drop-in vaccines are available Monday through Friday at ZSFG, 1001 Potrero Avenue (between 22nd and 23rd Streets), Building 30, as supplies last. Find other MPX vaccine sites or sign up on SFAF’s waitlist.

Be aware, but not overly afraid

MPX is transmitted from person to person during skin-to-skin contact with a person who has a rash (like during sex, or dancing), or contact with body fluids like when kissing and when engaging in water sports. Even though it’s technically possible to transmit MPX on surfaces (like if you share a towel with someone who has MPX), it’s less likely. There isn’t much risk of getting MPX from sharing things like toilet seats, pools, and gym equipment, or being in a steam room or sauna with someone who has MPX.

Know when to go out — and when to stay home

It’s been a long few years without community events because of Covid — we think it’s time to get back out there (safely, and if you feel comfortable doing so). But if you believe you have MPX, the safest thing for yourself and the community is to stay home.

Play dress up

There’s never been a better time to dress from top to bottom in latex or leather. Keeping your skin covered is a sure-fire way to prevent exposure to MPX.

Take a friend to the dungeon

Going to sex parties with people you know (and planning on who you’ll hook up with) can be one way to reduce your risk if you’re able to have open and honest conversations about MPX symptoms and possible exposures. Talk to the people you’ll play with ahead of time about MPX, but also things like HIV, PrEP, and sexual health testing.

Avoid the crowds

Consider skipping the dark, back rooms at parties if they’re super crowded and there’s no way to control who you’re bumping up against and rubbing skin-to-skin with. Prioritize the parties that draw smaller crowds than larger parties that pack you up against thousands of others.

Enjoy the show

Check out bondage demonstrations and other public performances. Use what you see at Folsom as inspiration for your play with regular sex partners.

It’s OK to be picky with your sex partners

We do this all the time — there are a ton of factors that go into choosing who you’ll have sex with and what you’ll do with that person (or people). Pay attention to how you’re making choices about who you hook up with, and be aware of situations that make you feel uncomfortable or beyond any limits you set for yourself. This advice can be about MPX, but also a reminder about safety and consent.

Keep in mind that condoms can reduce risk of MPX, but not eliminate risk entirely, since MPX rashes/lesions can show up all over the body. Condoms are a great way to prevent other STIs, and also HIV.

Slow your roll

We know it’s tempting to plunge headfirst into your x-rated weekend. To reduce your risk, consider unpacking your weekend. Prioritize a few events, and go with people you already know and trust.

If you see a bump (or bumps), get ‘em checked and cover them up!

If you see a bump, and feel like it’s likely to be MPX (for instance, if you know you have been exposed or it isn’t a type of bump you have had before), it makes sense to stay home and wait on going out until you can get it checked out by your healthcare provider. If you develop MPX, stay home and follow any recommendations you get from your healthcare provider and the health department. If you’ve got bumps on your skin for other reasons (like a blister, or acne), and still want to enjoy the party without unwanted scrutiny, cover them up with a Band-aid or clothing before you go out. For folks that may recognize bumps (that may well indeed be MPX), and are still determined to go out, cover those bumps up! Preventing skin-to-skin contact is an effective way to reduce risk of MPX.

Read more: MPX Info & Updates

Medical information provided and reviewed by SFAF clinicians Jorge Roman, MSN, FNP-BC, AAHIVS, and Hyman Scott, MD, MPH.