coronavirus Pandemic is on the decline, and every day the hospital discharged more and more people, who managed to win the coronavirus. However, the victory in the battle for life is only the first stage of a long journey of returning to society. The next battle will face in your social circle – more and more psychologists speak of the stigmatization of survivors coronavirus. The point is simple: people living in fear of a new unknown infection, I put “stigma” on those who are or may be its carriers. According to European and American psychologists, General confusion is the variety of opinions about how to get a virus, the more dangerous it is and how to keep from infecting yourself and your family – it becomes a favorable environment for stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination. The result is a new social and psychological problems. How to use the experience of the fight against stigmatization of cancer patients or HIV-infected after the end of the pandemic coronavirus, “MK” discussed with experts.

Stigma (from the Greek word “stigma”, that is the stamp on the body of the offender) was accompanied by a pandemic of a coronavirus from the first days of its existence. If we recall the events of January-February 2020, will see the first untouchables were all people of Asian appearance, because the virus originated in China. A little later, “mark”, laced with a mandatory two-week social isolation, were all who in the recent past been in the European countries – whether in the North of Italy, in the new hotbed of the epidemic, or “sterile” Malta. Following the group of “lepers” were all who were ill with the coronavirus, as well as their family members and work colleagues – as “contact”.

According to experts, stigma is a normal human reaction to fear of the virus, and this fear sometimes becomes an almost superstitious form. During a pandemic, human naturally look for the answer to the question “Who is guilty?” and thus, easy to assign blame to those to whom this would seem obvious.

the company already familiar with the problem of stigma in other examples – for example, in the case of HIV-infected persons, cancer patients or, to a lesser extent, returning after serving a sentence in places of deprivation of liberty for non-violent crimes (not murderers and rapists, and those, for example, who were convicted of “economic” articles). Years of research allow us to conclude: sometimes the stigma gets to a man almost more harm than the disease itself.

– I twice had cancer in childhood, when I was 8 years old, and in adulthood, at the age of 28. Accordingly, experienced the full range of emotions return to society after illness and as a child and as an adult. You need to recognize FACT: our society generally does not accept people with serious illnesses, whether cancer, AIDS or coronavirus. People lack basic knowledge: how to communicate with ill person when it ceases to be dangerous, some situations are best avoided and which are completely safe. Triggered the effect of “I’m with leper, I’d better go!”, and so ill people feel marginalized. However, between cancer and coronavirus there is a difference, though, and specific. Cancer is not contagious – but most people do not understand and still afraid. About the coronavirus we all know that it is contagious, but don’t always understand how it is transmitted – the sea of information, the person is confused-where did not true. And in the end still prefers to refuse contact – has explained in conversation with the correspondent of “MK” head of the charitable project “childhood” Maria Tomich, which is engaged in volunteer support of cancer patients.

a Few years ago in Moscow, considerable interest was aroused by the story of neighbors who demanded to prohibit the surrender to their entrance to the children with cancer, people were afraid of becoming infected. The proverb “better safe than sorry” in this case construed completely wrong, as it should be – in the end, it provokes social conflicts. In the case of coronavirus infection you may recall how at the beginning of the pandemic alarm signals received from the regions. In one city the men near the entrance, beat paramedic, refused to say from what place the call came “on the coronavirus”, in another town, returning after a holiday in Italy healthy girl on the door was written “Bastard, you’ll get sick of our children.” Those people who went to isolate themselves in other regions or in country towns, report: the recognition that you from Moscow, can cause unpredictable aggression of the local residents – they consider that Muscovites brought them the virus. And, experts say, we still have a few difficult weeks during which the neighbors will be around those who are fortunate enough to return from the hospital alive and healthy, in a wide arc, and work colleagues – I will not venture to use them with the same utensils in the kitchen area.

According to Mary Tomich, the main thing in this situation is to be patient and be prepared to explain to others the specifics of his condition.

When I communicate with cancer patients, I explain: “Yes, our society does not understand what diseases are dangerous and which are not, and we are sad when we are faced with aggression. However, our offense will not change anything, it is not effective. Our task is to educate these people, to explain to them what is happening: what you have a disease, under which conditions it can be infected”. Will help only thosebelive informing and controlling their own emotions. Need a long and detailed explanation: if the doctor prescribed a person if completed the 14-day quarantine, it means that the person has ceased to be contagious, – said Tomic, and added that it is also necessary to understand the motives of other people and not to consider them all want to humiliate you. For example, a group can be people with disabilities, people with chronic diseases or pregnant women, for whom fear of Contracting a completely natural and understandable.

a Huge reservoir of social advertising appeared to support HIV-infected and aid in the adaptation of society to them: many “cheat sheets” that are being spread even in schools, explain clearly and lucidly – the virus is transmitted only through blood and semen, so patients with HIV can be friends, to play, to work together and even kissing. After the end of the pandemic, apparently, before our society will take a new task – to create the same memo, dedicated to coronavirus infection.

meanwhile, as will be explained in conversation with the correspondent “MK” practicing psychologist Anastasia Alexandrova, the level of stigmatization will almost certainly be directly proportional to the level of fear of the virus that exists in society. Therefore, we should not expect that the normalization of human relations will be fast and easy.

– If today people are afraid to use the elevators upon hearing that their access someone who is ill with the coronavirus and wash with bleach packaging of products brought from the store, it’s hard to imagine that after the phrase “I had been exposed to coronavirus” a man will rush to hug colleagues. However, to play into the hands can, among other things, the quantitative factor: the number of cases in Moscow is now such that almost every man has not one friend who have had the virus. Accordingly, if the office will return not one but half a dozen survivors, they will be perceived as a normal variant and not as lepers. We’re not afraid of those who recovered from the flu, explained Alexandrov.

in addition, according to the psychologist, you will need to make allowances for special cases. If a pregnant woman, have shied away from a patient with rubella, you can always understand that just as we can understand, for example, a person with asthma or chronic bronchitis which is a long part with antibacterial agents – the virus that triggers breathing problems, for it will be fatal.

According to experts, a good option for the resumption of relations at work can be writing letter to General chat or by sending via corporate e-mail. A person can simply formulate what he wants to say, and so I was sick in such numbers, but healthy – discharged from bolinity such and such a date, was in rehab, all tests normal, still have some harmless side effects.

– it is Desirable to add that such a person is willing to answer questions. There is some element of manipulation: most likely, after such a “confession” questions will not arise. However, the appeal to all is respect for colleagues. In addition, you will understand that illness is not a taboo for you that you are ready to talk about it, – said the psychologist Alexandrov.

experts Also note that a good sign on the way to combat stigma is the fact that many celebrities are not shy to publicly declare that they have been exposed to coronavirus, and even to describe in detail the course of their illness in social networks or personal blogs. This maneuver gives an understanding that sickness is not something scary and unknown, but a very understandable thing, facing the real people.

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at the beginning of spring, the world health organization published a report which called the stigmatization of infected Covid-19 additional danger of a pandemic. According to experts the who, stigma occurs when people negatively associate an infectious disease with a specific community: in the beginning of the pandemic – with people of Asian appearance, and later with guests from abroad, and now – with recover.