COVID-19: Facts, Cultural Considerations, and Risk of Stigmatization
Data on COVID-19 supports targeted social distancing could be an effective way to reduce morbidity and mortality, but could inadvertently increase stigma for affected populations. As health care providers we must be aware of the facts of COVID-19, cultural implications, and potential for stigmatization of populations affected by COVID-2019. It is important to consider the real economic impact related to lost workdays due to quarantine and social isolation efforts as well as travel restrictions that may negatively impact access to care and ability to pay for care. Efforts geared towards general education about the disease and the rationale for quarantine and public health information provided to the general public can reduce stigmatization. Countries who are successful at aggressive screening, early identification, patient isolation, contact tracing, quarantine, and infection control methods should also address the risk of stigmatization among populations and the negative effects which could occur. The cases of COVID-19 will continue to rise and the virus will be sustainable for future infections. Timely and appropriate public health interventions addressing cultural impact and risk for stigmatization along with proper screening, treatment, and follow up for affected individuals and close contacts can reduce the number of infections, serious illness, and deaths.