STATE: NCDHHS launches Take Pride Now campaign to encourage sexual health, encourage Mpox vaccinations, reduce disease transmission

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is launching the Take Pride Now campaign to encourage sexual health. This campaign promotes safer sex practices, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs) prevention, testing and treatment. NCDHHS and its partners encourage North Carolinians, especially those at higher risk for STIs, to take three steps to help limit the spread:

  • TAKE part in safer sex practices. These can lower the risk of exposure to STIs which are spread mostly by unprotected sexual contact.
  • PRIDE yourself in prioritizing your sexual health by getting tested regularly for STIs and vaccinated against mpox (formerly known as monkeypox), if eligible.
  • NOW is the time to take the first steps. If left untreated, sexually transmitted infections can lead to more health complications.

The Take Pride Now campaign is being launched in advance of Pride month in June and at a time when the U.S. is seeing a resurgence of mpox cases in other parts of the country. As people travel to and attend Pride events, it is important to be vaccinated for mpox, if eligible, and take other steps to stay healthy before, during and after these celebrations. Mpox vaccine is available across the state for people who meet any of the following criteria:

  • Anyone who had close contact in the past two weeks with someone who has been diagnosed with mpox; or
  • Gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, or transgender individuals, who are sexually active; or
  • People who have had sexual contact with gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, or transgender individuals in the past 90 days; or
  • People living with HIV, or taking medication to prevent HIV (PrEP), or who were diagnosed with syphilis in the past 90 days.

“Take pride in your health — If you’re at risk for mpox, now is the time to get your vaccine,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “Mpox vaccines are safe and effective in reducing risk of transmission and severe disease.”

North Carolina has seen 708 mpox cases through the end of April 2023. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men continue to make up most of the cases, as they have since the outbreak began in 2022. Mpox cases are higher for Black and Hispanic or Latino men. However, this group only makes up 27% of the vaccinations distributed so far in North Carolina. NCDHHS is working with all levels of government and in partnership with community organizations to decrease this disparity.  Vaccination remains a crucial tool for reducing risk of transmission and disease severity.

As of April 26, 26,091 JYNNEOS vaccine doses have been administered across the state. JYNNEOS is a safe and effective mpox vaccine to reduce the risk of infection and reduce severity of disease. The vaccine requires two doses at least 28 days apart, and it takes 14 days after getting the second dose of JYNNEOS to reach maximum protection.

For the latest information on mpox and sexual health education efforts in North Carolina, including where to locate testing and mpox vaccines, visit ncdhhs.gov/TakePrideNow.