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The Aliveness Project offers free monkeypox vaccines at new clinic event

A Minneapolis-based nonprofit is branching out from HIV care and prevention to tackle this new virus outbreak.

MINNEAPOLIS — As of the morning of Sept. 15, there were 22,630 cases of monkeypox in the United States — 163 of those cases were in Minnesota.

These statistics from the CDC are why Minneapolis-based nonprofit, The Aliveness Project, is branching out from HIV care and prevention to tackle this new threat.

The Aliveness Project's primary mission is to help the HIV community and people at risk for the virus. Staff aid in everything from prevention to diagnosis and finding life-saving medicine. The nonprofit's "Thrive" clinic at 17 East 38th Street in Minneapolis, is the first free PrEP clinic in the United States. There's no charge to the patients for the office visit, lab work or medication. 

However, with monkeypox spreading, the nonprofit is shifting its focus. 

"When the outbreak started happening, I started getting on community calls with the Department of Health, and our CDC project officers gave us the OK to help out with this," explained Matthew Hoppe, The Aliveness Project's director of clinical services. 

Hoppe got approximately 400 doses of the monkeypox vaccine, an incredible stroke of luck since there's a shortage. 

On Sept. 22, at the Thrive Clinic in Minneapolis, there are two free opportunities to get the vaccine: 9 a.m. to noon and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. It's first come, first served.

At this time, data from the CDC suggests that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men make up the majority of current monkeypox cases. However, anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, could be at risk. 

"Pretty much anybody in the community who has multiple sexual partners in two weeks," said Hoppe. 

He reiterated that this isn't just an LGBTQ+ community issue. For example, if you are straight and have multiple partners, you can be at risk for the virus.

It takes five minutes to get the vaccine, and Hoppe hopes they can get as many people to take it as possible. 

"... get all doses out the door and then hopefully get more vaccines from MDH (Minnesota Department of Health) and continue to expand and get more and more of the community to help stop this."

Along with getting the monkeypox vaccine, people can get tested for HIV and get a COVID-19 vaccine, too. 

Those who get a monkeypox vaccine on the 22nd can return in 28 days (Oct. 20) to get their second dose. At this time, The Aliveness Project will NOT be doing any first shots on the second day or second shots on the first day. 

Who's suitable for the MPX Vaccine? 

• Have been exposed in the past 14 days to either someone diagnosed with MPX infection or someone who has not yet received test results but has been told by their provider it is most likely an MPX infection.

• Engage in sex work, or exchange sex for food, money, substances, shelter, etc.

• You are trans- or cisgender individuals who self-identify as gay or bisexual

• Men who have sex with men, who have had more than one partner in the past 90 days.

• Living with HIV.

• Immune-compromising condition.

• On or eligible for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

• Have received a diagnosis of bacterial STI (i.e., chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis) in the past two months.

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