KIIS FM brushes off backlash after Kyle Sandilands slammed for monkeypox comments

Kyle Sandilands comes under fire for calling monkeypox a ‘big gay disease’ in wild segment – as KISS FM defends shock jock’s ‘colourful’ comments

  • Kyle Sandilands is under fire for calling monkeypox ‘a big gay disease that only the gays get’
  • The KISS FM radio host made the comments during a wild segment about the viral disease on Tuesday
  • He spoke to two gay men and a doctor about monkeypox and its vaccine
  • The Kyle and Jackie O Show host’s comments were dismissed as just  ‘colourful vernacular’ by network bosses
  • Some listeners took to social media to call the comments ‘absolute ignorance’ 

The Australian Radio Network (ARN) has defended Kyle Sandilands after the KIIS FM host was slammed for his off-colour comments about monkeypox.

Sandilands, 51, was criticised for referring to monkeypox as ‘a big gay disease that only the gays get’ on Tuesday’s edition of The Kyle and Jackie O Show.

His commentary caused a stir among some on social media on Saturday after being called out in a newspaper column.

The Australian Radio Network (ARN) has defended Kyle Sandilands (pictured) after the KIIS FM host was slammed for his off-colour comments about monkeypox this week

The Australian Radio Network (ARN) has defended Kyle Sandilands (pictured) after the KIIS FM host was slammed for his off-colour comments about monkeypox this week

ARN management responded to the criticism in a statement, chalking Sandilands’ comments down to his ‘colourful vernacular’.

‘Kyle is renowned for his colourful vernacular,’ an ARN spokesperson said.

‘We appreciate that those unaccustomed to his expressions may consider the content opinionated, and the range of topics discussed on the show are not to everyone’s taste.’

During the segment on Tuesday, Sandilands encouraged openly gay KIIS FM newsreader Brooklyn Ross to get vaccinated against monkeypox.

When Ross said he wasn’t planning on getting the shot because he was in a committed relationship, Sandilands said he was ‘rolling the dice’.

‘What’s wrong with you gays?’ he said, before joking that Ross’ longtime boyfriend Damien could be unfaithful, putting the newsreader at risk.  

The shock jock then got Damien to call in to the studio to discuss the topic further.

Sandilands, 51, was criticised for referring to monkeypox as 'a big gay disease that only the gays get' on Tuesday's edition of The Kyle and Jackie O Show

Sandilands, 51, was criticised for referring to monkeypox as ‘a big gay disease that only the gays get’ on Tuesday’s edition of The Kyle and Jackie O Show

After speaking to Damien and urging him to get vaccinated, Sandilands then phoned the show’s medical expert Dr Sam Hay, known as Dr KIIS, for professional medical advice on monkeypox and the vaccine.

‘Is it true that if you eat bananas, your chance of getting monkeypox skyrockets?’ Sandilands asked, before bursting into laughter. 

At one point, he also joked that Dr KIIS should turn away monkeypox patients. 

‘If I was a doctor, I’d put a sign up, “No monkeypox patients admitted.” I think you can do whatever you want as a doctor,’ he said.

‘You don’t have to have every Tom, Dick, and bloody dirty monkeypox victim coming in there, do ya?’

'Is it true that if you eat bananas, your chance of getting monkeypox skyrockets?' Sandilands asked, before bursting into laughter

‘Is it true that if you eat bananas, your chance of getting monkeypox skyrockets?’ Sandilands asked, before bursting into laughter

The father-of-one also joked that he ‘wasn’t letting any gays’ near his newborn son Otto. 

In a column for Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday, gossip reporter Andrew Hornery wrote that Sandilands had ‘deeply offended the marginalised groups he claims to have long championed, including gay men’. 

Sandilands was also criticised on social media, with one listener tweeting: ‘He was semi-joking but at no point did he clarify this so [it] inflamed the stigma with his audience.’

‘His monkeypox comments show his absolute ignorance and incorrect belief that it’s not already circulating among non-gay men,’ tweeted another.

Newspaper gossip columnist Andrew Hornery (pictured) wrote that Sandilands had 'deeply offended the marginalised groups he claims to have long championed, including gay men'

Newspaper gossip columnist Andrew Hornery (pictured) wrote that Sandilands had ‘deeply offended the marginalised groups he claims to have long championed, including gay men’

Last month the World Health Organisation called on gay and bisexual men to consider limiting their sexual partners to reduce the spread of monkeypox.

Advising people on the steps they could take to avoid the virus, its director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: ‘For men who have sex with men, this includes, for the moment, reducing your number of sexual partners, reconsidering sex with new partners, and exchanging contact details with any new partners to enable follow-up if needed.’

Experts said the WHO was right to issue the warning at the time, as most cases were being spotted in the LGBT community. But they cautioned it was also important to ensure one group was not singled out.

During the segment on Tuesday, Sandilands encouraged openly gay KIIS FM newsreader Brooklyn Ross to get vaccinated against monkeypox. Sandilands is pictured with Ross and two of their friends

During the segment on Tuesday, Sandilands encouraged openly gay KIIS FM newsreader Brooklyn Ross to get vaccinated against monkeypox. Sandilands is pictured with Ross and two of their friends

The virus — spread via physical touch and scabs — can just as easily spill over into other groups.

Sandilands has been an outspoken supporter of the LGBT community for years.

In 2018, he and co-host Jackie ‘O’ Henderson attended the Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras with Ross.

They appeared on the KIIS FM float together, with Sandilands dyeing his beard pink and covering himself in glitter.

In 2017, he angrily blasted Australian rugby star Israel Folau for saying that gay people will ‘go to hell unless they repent for their sins’.

In 2018, he and co-host Jackie 'O' Henderson attended the Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras with Ross and Imogen Anthony. All pictured

In 2018, he and co-host Jackie ‘O’ Henderson attended the Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras with Ross and Imogen Anthony. All pictured

Sandilands labelled the footballer ‘a c**k’ and an ‘idiot’ and compared Folau’s comments to ‘a hate crime’.

‘Let’s just get one thing straight, just because you believe one thing doesn’t mean you can go pushing your dopey ideas out on others… young gay kids hear rubbish!’ he raged at the time.

That same year, Sandilands savaged a ‘homophobic’ caller after they claimed homosexual couples having kids was ‘the pinnacle of cruelty.’

‘Well you are a f**kwit,’ he clapped back, promptly terminating the call.

How DO you catch monkeypox and what are the symptoms? Everything you need to know about the virus 

How do you catch monkeypox?

Until this worldwide outbreak, monkeypox was usually spread by infected rodents — including rats, mice and even squirrels — in west and central Africa.

Humans can catch the illness — which comes from the same family as smallpox — if they’re bitten by infected animals, touch their blood, bodily fluids, or scabs, or eat wild game or bush meat.

The orthopoxvirus, which causes monkeypox, can enter the body through broken skin — even if it’s not visible, as well as the eyes, nose and mouth.

Despite being mainly spread by wild animals, it was known that monkeypox could be passed on between people. However, health chiefs insist it was very rare until the current outbreak.

Human-to-human spread can occur if someone touches clothing or bedding used by an infected person, or through direct contact with the virus’ tell-tale scabs. The virus can also spread through coughs and sneezes. 

In the ongoing surge in cases, experts think the virus is passing through skin-to-skin contact during sex — even though this exact mechanism has never been seen until now.

How deadly is it?

Monkeypox is usually mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks without treatment. 

Yet, the disease kills up to 10 per cent of cases. But this high rate is thought to be in part due to a historic lack of testing meaning that a tenth of known cases have died rather than a tenth of all infections.

However, with milder strains the fatality rate is closer to one in 100 — similar to when Covid first hit.

The west African version of the virus, which is mild compared to the Central African strain, is behind the current spread. No deaths have been reported as part of the ongoing outbreak.

How is it tested for? 

It can be difficult to diagnose monkeypox as it is often confused with other infections such as chickenpox.

But when a case is suspected doctors send samples to their local health authorities to be tested for orthopox viruses — the family of viruses that includes monkeypox and smallpox. If the result is positive, the sample is then sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or a private laboratory for confirmatory testing.

The test involves taking samples from skin lesions, such as part of the scab, fluid leaking from them or pieces of dry crusts.

What are the symptoms?

It can take up to three weeks for monkeypox-infected patients to develop any of its tell-tale symptoms.

Early signs of the virus include a fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion — meaning it could, theoretically, be mistaken for other common illnesses.

But its most unusual feature is a rash that often begins on the face, then spreads to other parts of the body, commonly the hands and feet.

The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

How long is someone contagious?

An individual is contagious from the point their rash appears until all the scabs have fallen off and there is intact skin underneath.

The scabs may also contain infectious virus material.

The infectious period is thought to last for three weeks but may vary between individuals.

What do I do if I have symptoms?

The CDC advises anyone with an unexplained rash or another warning sign to contact their healthcare provider for a medical assessment and monkeypox test. Anyone who does not have insurance should visit a public health clinic.

Suspected patients should also avoid close contact — including sex or being intimate — with others, they add.

When they visit a clinic it is also advised to wear a mask, and remind the healthcare provider that the virus is circulating in the area. Gay and bisexual men have been asked to be especially alert to the symptoms as most of the cases have been detected in men who have sex with men. 

What even is monkeypox?

Monkeypox was first discovered when an outbreak of a pox-like disease occurred in monkeys kept for research in 1958.

The first human case was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the infection has been reported in a number of central and western African countries since then.

Only a handful of cases have been reported outside of Africa and they were confined to people with travel links to the continent. 

The UK, U.S., Israel and Singapore are the only countries which had detected the virus before May 2022.

But as testing was ramped up globally cases were quickly detected in other countries — including the first case in the U.S. in May in a man who had recently returned from Canada by car. 

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which causes unusual rashes or lesions (shown in a handout provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which kills up to one in ten of those infected but does not spread easily between people. The tropical disease is endemic in parts of Africa and is known for its rare and unusual rashes, bumps and lesions (file photo)

Nurses and doctors are being advised to stay 'alert' to patients who present with a new rash or scabby lesions (like above)

Nurses and doctors are being advised to stay ‘alert’ to patients who present with a new rash or scabby lesions (like above)

Is it related to chickenpox?

Despite causing a similar rash, chickenpox is not related to monkeypox.

The infection, which usually strikes children, is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. 

For comparison, monkeypox — like smallpox — is an orthopoxvirus. Because of this link, smallpox vaccines also provide protection against monkeypox.  

Are young people more vulnerable?

Americans aged under 50 may be more susceptible to monkeypox, according to the World Health Organization.

This is because children in America were routinely offered the smallpox jab, which protects against monkeypox, until 1972. The programme was halted once smallpox had been eradicated.

The WHO also warns that the fatality rate has been higher among young children. 

Does it spread as easily as Covid?

Leading experts insist we won’t be seeing Covid-style levels of transmission in the monkeypox outbreak.

A World Health Organization report last year suggested the natural R rate of the virus – the number of people each patient would infect if they lived normally while sick – is two. 

This is lower than the original Wuhan variant of Covid and about a third of the R rate of the Indian ‘Delta’ strain. 

But the real rate is likely much lower because ‘distinctive symptoms greatly aid in its early detection and containment,’ the team said, meaning it’s easy to spot cases and isolate them.

Covid is mainly spread through droplets an infected person releases whenever they breathe, speak, cough or sneeze.

There are a handful of antivirals and therapies for smallpox that appear to work on monkeypox, including the drug tecovirimat or TPOXX, which was approved for monkeypox in the U.S. in August

There are a handful of antivirals and therapies for smallpox that appear to work on monkeypox, including the drug tecovirimat or TPOXX, which was approved for monkeypox in the U.S. in August

Is there a vaccine for it? 

The smallpox vaccine, called Imvanex in the UK and Jynneos in the U.S., can protect against monkeypox because the viruses behind the illnesses are closely related.

Data shows it prevents around 85 per cent of cases, and has been used in the U.S. since 2019. 

The jab, estimated to cost $24.16 per dose, contains a modified live vaccinia virus, which is similar to both smallpox and monkeypox, but does not cause disease in people. 

Because of its similarity to the pox viruses, antibodies produced against this virus offer cross protection.

Are there any drugs to treat it? 

There are a handful of antivirals and therapies for smallpox that appear to work on monkeypox.

This includes the drug tecovirimat — also known as TPOXX —, which was approved for use against monkeypox in the U.S. in August.

Tecovirimat prevents the virus from leaving an infected cell, hindering the spread of the virus within the body. 

An injectable antiviral used to treat AIDS called cidofovir can be used to manage the infection, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It also works by stopping the growth of the virus.  

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