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Infectious diseases and social stigma

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Author(s): Joan L. Williams | Diego J. Gonzalez-Medina | Quan Vu Le

Journal: Applied Technologies and Innovations
ISSN 1804-1191

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 58;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Stigma | influenza | public health | infectious disease | pandemic

ABSTRACT
Stigma creates a barrier between the sick and the rest of society that prevents them from acting on their instinctive desire to seek curative treatment that will enable them to reenter into their every day social activity. For these ailing persons, the cost of being stigmatized far outweighs the desire to rehabilitate their lifestyle. Further, social stigma associated with infectious disease undermines the overall health of society, and the effectiveness of community efforts to offer unabridged healthcare services to treat and prevent the spread of communicable disease. In the wake of the latest pandemic influenza outbreak, the global community witnessed how under the stress H1N1, communities, regions, and countries can suffer socially and economically. Our research finds a statistically significant relationship between infectious disease and social stigma. We also identify the role the media plays in exacerbating this issue, and address preliminary policy implications to mitigate these issues in the future.
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