Stigma and Discrimination (SAD) at the Time of the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 08 31; 17(17)IJ
Infectious disease control is a crucial public health issue. Although it is important to urgently perform public health measures in order to reduce the risk of spread, it could end up stigmatizing entire groups of people rather than offering control measures based on sound scientific principles. This "us" versus "them" dynamic is common in stigmatization, in general, and indicates a way in which disease stigma can be viewed as a proxy for other types of fears, especially xenophobia and general fear of outsiders. The pandemic risk associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection led us to consider, among other related issues, how stigma and discrimination remain serious barriers to care for people suspected of being infected, even more if they are assisting professions, such as health workers, employed in emergency response. The purpose of this review is to evaluate and promote the importance of psychological aspects of the stigma and social discrimination (SAD) in pandemic realities and, more specifically, nowadays, in the context of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19. Just as it happened with HIV, HCV, tuberculosis, and Zika, stigma and discrimination undermine the social fabric compromising the ethics and principles of civilization to which each individual in entitled. Recognizing disease stigma history can give us insight into how, exactly, stigmatizing attitudes are formed, and how they are disbanded. Instead of simply blaming the ignorance of people espousing stigmatizing attitudes about certain diseases, we should try to understand precisely how these attitudes are formed so that we can intervene in their dissemination. We should also look at history to see what sorts of interventions against stigma may have worked in the past. Ongoing research into stigma should evaluate what has worked in the past, as above-mentioned, providing us with some clues as to what might work in the current pandemic emergency, to reduce devastating discrimination that keeps people from getting the care they need. We propose a systematic and historical review, in order to create a scientific and solid base for the following SAD analysis. The aim is to propose a coping strategy to face stigma and discrimination (SAD) related to SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, borrowing coping strategy tools and solutions from other common contagious diseases. Furthermore, our study observes how knowledge, education level, and socioeconomic status (SES) can influence perception of SARS-CoV-2/ COVID-19 risk in a digital world, based on previous research, best practices, and evidence-based research.