A Columbia Student’s Guide to Monkeypox

Next steps and resources for students diagnosed with monkeypox

Columbia Health
October 12, 2022

On Friday, October 7, Columbia Health hosted a webinar on the Monkeypox virus. Wafaa El-Sadr (Columbia Global) shared updates on the current state of Monkeypox and members of the Columbia Health team* discussed mitigating stigmatization around the disease and the resources available to students around the virus.

For guidance on testing or sexual health, students can speak to GHAP Advocates (email [email protected]) or schedule a health promotion visit (email [email protected]).

For students who believe they have been exposed or infected with Monkeypox, read on for what you should do next and learn about the Columbia Health resources available to support you.

Medical Support and Contact Tracing

If you suspect you were exposed or infected with Monkeypox, contact Medical Services immediately by sending a secure message to your provider on the Patient Portal or calling 212-854-7426.

Once connected with Medical Services, your risk and need for medical assistance will be determined. If necessary, Medical Services will refer you to the New York City Department of Health for a vaccination.

During this visit, a clinician will determine your risk of infection.  If you have a rash commonly seen in persons with Monkeypox, the clinician will collect samples using a polyester swab for testing. The Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan covers this test and students on the Plan will incur no cost (students not on the Plan may incur a fee – check with your health insurance plan).

If Monkeypox testing occurs, you will be required to quarantine until your test results come in.

Tested negative?

You may leave quarantine and return to daily activities without restriction.

Tested positive?

You are required to remain in isolation until lesions/rashes heal. You will be referred to Columbia’s Contact Tracing team, who will reach out and provide support and guidance about medical and mental health care through Columbia Health, classes (see Accommodations), work, housing, food, and more.

Mental Health Support

Isolation can be very difficult for individuals in treatment and recovery from Monkeypox; however there are simple steps you can take to make the discomfort of isolation more bearable.

You can call Counseling & Psychological Services (CPS)  at 212-854-2878 to schedule a telehealth consultation and/or join open support spaces which tackle a wide range of topics. Outside of CPS, students can access 24/7 free confidential support services through NYC Well.


Students with Monkeypox may require accommodations and support services such as remote participation in academic work or extended absences. Students diagnosed at Columbia Health will be connected directly to Disability Services by the Contact Tracing team.

If you are diagnosed with Monkeypox by an external provider, contact Disability Services directly at [email protected].


Question: Does the Columbia Student Health Insurance cover Monkeypox testing?

Answer: Yes.


Q: Will Medical Services be getting the Monkeypox Vaccine?

A: Medical Services does not have the vaccine and it is only available through the New York City Department of Health.


Q: How can we support our friends?

A: If you know someone who has been exposed to Monkeypox, offer support. Don’t wait for the person to ask you for help. Instead, check in with them regularly and point them to the available resources at Columbia Health.


Q: Who can I talk to about getting a test or if I have other questions about Monkeypox?

A: Contact your Primary Care Provider at Medical Services via secure message or speak to a nurse by calling 212-854-7426.


Q: Will my information be kept confidential?

A: Yes. Contact tracing, CPS, and Medical Services all remain private and confidential. 

* Columbia Health Panelists:

  • Daniel Chiarilli (Alice! Health Promotion)
  • Katherine McAvoy (Alice! Health Promotion)
  • Richard O’Keefe (Medical Services)
  • Eduvigis Cruz-Arrieta (Counseling and Psychological Services)
  • Colleen Lewis (Disability Services).


Moderated by Alicia Czachowski (Alice! Health Promotion)