MonkeyPox Isn’t Yet A Pandemic But It’s Already Impacting the Sex Lives of Single Americans
MonkeyPox cases are mounting across the globe, with a cumulative total of 257 laboratory-confirmed cases, and around 120 suspected cases, reported to the World Health Organization (as of May 26, 2022). Additionally, the UK has recently warned that people with MonkeyPox should abstain from sex (see article here). Due to this bit of new information, Glimpse sought to understand how concerned single and sexually active Americans are and will they put a pause on their sex lives due to fear of transmitting MonkeyPox?
In order to understand whether our results capture a relevant subset of US citizens and true US sentiment, we obtained a broad cross-section of demographics across 100 respondents (US citizens), including:
Age and Gender
How Worried Are People Overall?
Overall, Glimpse found — not surprisingly — that people felt negatively about sex after learning that MonkeyPox is transmitted sexually. Remarkably though, a full 80% of respondents felt this way, with a dominant of emotion of sadness, followed by fear and anger. (The feeling of sadness was twice as prevalent as fear or anger.)
When asked further whether their dating lives will be impacted by MonkeyPox’s emergence, 69% of respondents believe that it will negatively impact their dating and/or sex life and 42% of people feel negative about meeting new people and dating at this time. The main reason cited by respondents for this impact is fear. Given the small number of reported cases, this incipient fear and self-reported intention to change behavior is notable.
Concerned or Not Concerned? Specific Insights and Feedback
One major feature of Glimpse is that our proprietary natural language processing data gathering allows respondents not only to answer multiple choice questions but also to freely answer sensitive questions using their own words. Our first question asked respondents to read the article from the UK and then answer: “As a person who is single / actively dating, how concerned are you about the emergence and spread of MonkeyPox into the US?”
In short, Glimpse found that 43% are “really concerned”; 28% of respondents were “not too concerned” while 29% were ambivalent, “neither concerned or unconcerned.”
Out of the 43% that are “really concerned”, the majority of those included:
25 to 34 year-olds
Heterosexual females in Southern states
With extremely liberal to moderate political views and at least an undergraduate college degree
It’s interesting to note that the 28% who stated they were “not too concerned” were comprised primarily of the same demographics of those who were “really concerned” with the only exception being the age group skewed slightly higher, 35-44 year olds. (It’s possible this may correlate with the frequency of to the amount of dating and sexual relations experienced by the slightly older group relative to the younger 25 to 34 year-olds). Additionally, 29% of them said they were not too concerned because they felt that MonkeyPox was not wide spread in the US.
For instance, a 24-year old moderate/independent heterosexual male from New York said:
“I haven’t seen too much about MonkeyPox on the news and I don’t think there are many cases here yet.”
Of the respondents who were “really concerned,” the most common response was “fear of the virus spreading quickly” (33%). Not surprising as we’re still experiencing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another more poignant response was from a white, extremely liberal/Democrat female, 43 years old, bisexual from Indiana. She shared a lesson she learned about public responses to epidemics:
“Because we've seen how the general public responds to public health emergencies and it's not very encouraging.”
When this same group was asked “How will this impact your dating life” - 53% commented that they will be more cautious about how they date and/or who they have sex with. A 31-year-old African American, extremely conservative/Independent, Bisexual from California stated:
“Make me very cautious about who I will be dating or coming into physical contact with.”
Views on What the US Government Should Do
Of those people who were “really concerned”, 37% felt that the US Government should be taking action to spread awareness of MonkeyPox, get working on a vaccine and impose measures similar to what it did for COVID, enforce social distancing and quarantine those who have symptoms. An African American heterosexual female, 54 years-old, moderate/Democrat from Indiana said:
“They should take action and whoever has it should be quarantined and they should have a vaccination prepared and ready to treat the people.”
25% of unconcerned folks felt that the US government should do nothing. While 68% felt that the US government should actively spread awareness, work on a vaccine and quarantine those with symptoms. (Progress!?)
“They shouldn’t do anything”.
Sentiment from a white, 37-year old heterosexual independent/moderate male from Utah.
Only time will tell how these sentiments will change, but right now, this Glimpse study shows a fairly bleak picture of how Americans feel about dating and sex as MonkeyPox continues to spread. Interestingly, only 6% of respondents even mentioned vaccines as part of the monkeypox discussion, with their sentiment being neutral on the use and development of vaccines.
As we can see from this timely study, people in the US who are dating right now are not only concerned about the emergence and spread of monkeypox, but they feel that it is directly affecting their lives. The value of knowing how a heterogeneous subset of Americans feels about this important topic shows trends and sentiments that are relevant to policymakers, citizens, and even news outlets.