By Zakiya Shaik
Apart from enduring and diligently working towards the fight to curb Covid-19, there seems to be another dire issue that we are being faced with: surviving the stigma that comes along with contracting the virus. Viruses like HIV, for example, come with an enormous amount of stigma attached to it, and many people who are living with HIV have reported that the stigma associated with the virus is worse than the actual virus and that they have been deeply affected by the psychological impacts of being HIV positive. Being discriminated against based on these grounds is completely unjustifiable.
It is understandable that Covid-19 spreads easily by touch and coming into contact with individuals who are carriers of it. However, by taking necessary precautions and making sure you are protecting yourself and others by being responsible is key. With that being said, we should make sure that we do not forget what it means to be kind and compassionate towards each other during this trying time. Many people who have contracted the virus and thereafter been cured of it have reported incidents of people discriminating against them and treating them in an unkind manner. The key aspect of this pandemic is to make sure that we do not contract the virus, however, acting ignorantly will not prevent the virus.
Living in a close-knitted community is another factor causing the rise of the stigma associated with Covid-19. According to a reliable source, people living in these communities – despite having symptoms – refuse to be tested due to the fear of discrimination by fellow community members. This is plain ignorance and will result in dire impacts in the near future.
As with any other disease, education on the topic is vital. Knowing the facts and understanding how the virus spreads will prevent you from acting in an ignorant and discriminatory manner. The stigma needs to be nipped in the bud and each and every person can contribute to this by ensuring that we encourage our family and friends to get tested should they have any symptoms. Also, make sure we offer support to people who have contracted the virus by raising awareness against the stigma. The virus does not discriminate against anyone; it attacks the young, old, rich, poor. With that being said, we have no right to discriminate against each other on the basis of these grounds. Take precautions and act responsibly and compassionately.
Zakiya Shaik is a journalism graduate from the University of Johannesburg. She is currently studying towards her honours in journalism at Wits University.
Featured image via FreePik.