Stigma attached to COVID-19 survivors may stall efforts to prevent virus spread

People who have recovered from COVID-19 say they are facing stigma from those in their circle, which may stall efforts to curb the virus' spread, NBC News reports.

After having undergone the rigors of the disease — with many experiencing frightening symptoms such as shortness of breath — those who have recovered now say that friends, family and colleagues treat them differently.

An Alabama woman who recovered from COVID-19 three months ago told NBC that she got suspicious looks from some people when she said she had caught the new coronavirus, with some assuming she did something wrong or did not take proper precautions. A person in her church even implied that she contracted the disease as a punishment for her sins.

"I feel like I have a scarlet letter on my chest," she told NBC News.

But this stigma, though difficult for the people experiencing it, is a predictable byproduct of the pandemic, Seema Yasmin, MD, director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative and a clinical assistant professor in the department of medicine at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., told NBC.

The stigma facing COVID-19 survivors is similar to the stigma faced by survivors of other public health crises, including the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the AIDS epidemic in the U.S.

The stigma can also stall efforts to curb the spread of the virus, as people may be reluctant to share positive test results, making contract- tracing more challenging, Dr. Yasmin said.

"People are judged by this microscopic pathogen in their body as opposed to getting the care and support they need," she told NBC.

Read the full article here.

More articles on public health:
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32 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Aug. 20
NYC shares data on 1.4 million antibody tests: 3 takeaways

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