SAN DIEGO — The San Diego LGBT Community Center is helping to host an online zoom forum to educate the community about how to protect themselves from monkeypox and fight stigma.

“You know, not going out to huge crowds of people. Trying to reduce contact with unknown parties. Basically stick to people you know,” says Hillcrest resident Ben Neal.

County health officials say the monkeypox outbreak is spreading primarily in the LGBTQ community. There are currently 239 local cases thus far. 

“It’s a little bit scary in particular because we don’t exactly know 100% how it’s being contracted and it seems to be spreading,” Hillcrest resident Scott Dombrowski said.

The San Diego LGBT Center along with other partners are now hosting a zoom forum next week to educate the public about the outbreak and the risks.

“Understand what your risk levels are. Understand how to get a test. How to get a vaccination,” LGBT Community Center Kim Fountain said.

Many residents say they’ve tried to get a vaccine but the vaccine is in limited supply. The HHSA website says the county has ordered more than 31,500 vials but has only received more than 5,000 so far.

“It’s absolutely a struggle which is why we really want to make certain that a State of Emergency continues to be held for California and for San Diego very specifically,” Fountain said. “There’s a formula that’s put out by the federal government and we’re part of that formula in terms of numbers of vaccines that each place can get and what we’re trying to explain to folks is that we need more.”

The forum also hopes to tackle stigma and address the struggles many have been facing with trying to get protected. 

“I think the stigma’s always dangerous because it tends to avoid the fact that anyone can get it, but at the same time you want to make sure that you make sure that any community or any minority community that is affected more gets the funding, gets the perspective and the attention that it deserves,” Hillcrest resident Ben Neal said.

The Center’s Deputy CEO also says many have been finding it difficult to get an appointment time slot to get tested for monkeypox. Meanwhile, the forum will be held online next Wednesday from 6-8 p.m.