“I became fully aware of this for the first time and started noticing symptoms on Friday, June 17,” Ford told CNN from county-ordered isolation at his Los Angeles home, where he has to remain for several more weeks before he doesn’t is more contagious.
He was hoping to go to Pride in New York last week. “But that wasn’t in the cards,” he said.
In the video, Ford talks about how the virus spreads and shows some of his lesions.
Ford said he had vaguely heard about a monkeypox outbreak via Twitter, but didn’t realize how close he was to the outbreak until a friend reached out to let him know Ford might have been exposed.
Ford said he immediately began a full body check.
“I noticed a few spots that I hadn’t noticed before,” said Ford, 30. He said the spots looked like pimples or ingrown hairs, so he went to a West Hollywood clinic for a test.
Ford said a doctor took a swab and a few days later the test came back positive for monkeypox.
Ford was actually saying the test merely confirmed what he was already experiencing. The spots he found no longer looked like pimples.
“They got bigger and filled up very quickly,” he said, and they hurt, especially in the more sensitive areas.
He said he also felt like he had the flu.
People with monkeypox may develop a fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and feel tired. He said he also had night sweats, a sore throat and a cough.
Some of the lesions were so painful that he went back to the doctor who gave him painkillers
“That proved very useful because I was finally able to sleep through the night,” said Ford. “But even the painkillers didn’t numb it completely. It just made it bearable enough for me to be able to fall asleep again.”
In the video, Ford is clearly spoken as he looks directly into the camera and warns others.
“Hi, my name is Matt. I have monkeypox, this shit sucks and you don’t want it,” Ford tells viewers.
He gives a tour of some of his 25 lesions, pointing to his face, arms and the patches on his abs.
“They’re really not cute,” he says.
While the disease is more common in Central and West Africa, this current outbreak has hit countries that have had few, if any, historical cases.
The county confirmed in an email to CNN on Thursday that it is sending isolation orders to people who test positive for monkeypox. Ford said he received his notice via email from the county on June 24.
Last Friday, LA County confirmed that some of the cases involve gay and bisexual men. Some of the men attended a handful of major events. The county said it worked with organizers to notify attendees of possible exposure.
Since Ford first told friends he had monkeypox, others have let him know that they too have contracted monkeypox.
Concerned that not enough people knew about it, Ford came up with the idea of making the TikTok video and sharing it.
“Ever since I got it, I’ve realized that it’s spreading quickly,” Ford said. “That’s a big reason I’m trying to speak up and raise awareness about it.”
The reaction to the video was “great,” he said. He was encouraged as several people have told him they did not know about it beforehand and have thanked him for spreading the word.
Ford also hopes the video can help end the stigma attached to the disease.
“There shouldn’t be any stigma,” Ford said. “It’s just a bad turn of events.”
“Often I think silence is the enemy,” Ford added. “I’m happy to be able to let people know and I hope more people are safe.”