The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a rise in stigma and prejudice against people who have the virus, people from countries where the virus originated or that are considered hot zones, people who have travelled recently, people who have come in contact with someone who has the virus. Health care workers may also be stigmatized as people assume; they must have the virus. To combat this discrimination, it is important to stay informed while treating others with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Stigma is a negative stereotype or negative association about people with an illness. Prejudice is a negative stereotype about a group, such as racism. The current COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a rise in stigma and discrimination against people who have the virus; people from countries where the virus originated or are considered hot zones; people who have travelled recently; or even those who it is believed have come in contact with someone who has the virus.
Stigma often arises because of fear or uncertainty about something we don’t fully understand. Because COVID-19 is new and there are still many unknowns, people are anxious. The mass of information flowing through social media and other channels can create misconceptions about the disease that may further cause anxiety.
The discrimination and racism that results from stigma can appear in various ways, such as:
Stigma obviously affects the people who are targeted, but it can also have a wider impact. For example:
You might be feeling anxious or scared, and it may be comforting to look for someone to blame. However, this is a time to focus on facts and evidence.
If you have been affected by stigma associated with COVID-19:
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