Fighting Fear

The stigma that disease brings is often more damaging than the disease itself.  People fear what they do not understand, and run when they see others as threats to their own health.  Especially in communities where there is a lack of information about a disease, victims of deadly diseases such as  AIDS and Cholera have been driven out of their homes and away from those they love.

In China, the shame and moral stigma attached to HIV/AIDs inhibits people from relative information and treatment.  The public fears AIDS believing it to be contracted only through immoral, shameful acts.  Because of exaggerated beliefs about its contagiousness, people are driven out of their homes, physically avoided and judged for their lack of hygiene and immoral behavior (Zhou 2007). Victims attested to a lack of information about HIV/AIDS until after they were actually diagnosed.  The general public is simply not educated about AIDS and the name only inspires and emotion- fear. In most cases, the disease could have been avoided if correct precautions had been taken.

Similar to AIDS, there was an extremely negative stigma attached to the Cholera outbreak in Haiti in October 2010. According to Jean-felix, “people are afraid because of how quickly this illness kills.” The disease wiped out thousands, and the public panicked.  It was impossible in places to bury the dead because the public would stone the diseased bodies before authorities could put them in the ground.  In the rural mountain communities, victims that suffered from uncontrollable diarrhea and vomiting were often driven from their families, lost their jobs and were severely isolated.  Blame for the disease is also placed on a variety of innocent people including UN aid workers.  Many Haitians believe that the foreigners brought the disease to the island and respond in hatred and violence. Giving aid is virtually impossible when fear is the overwhelming force behind the public’s actions.

This video shows demonstrates the countries violent, fearful response to the Cholera outbreak.

Haiti cholera epidemic invokes outrage

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