The World Health Organization declared an end to the COVID-19 pandemic on May 5th and I tested positive for the first time on April 26th. I’m not sure what to make of the timing 😊.
Although it was a true travel nightmare to test positive for COVID-19 while traveling in Europe, I did OK. We were staying in an apartment so I could isolate and I had time to recover and enjoy the remainder of my trip.
Note: we are really fortunate to have had free access to vaccines and treatment in the U.S. I am still waiting for a bill from the urgent care clinic in Italy. I heard that Paxlovid alone costs $1000+ ☹.
I have also been LUCKY to have dodged COVID-19 for as long as I did. I am fully vaxxed and boosted. I think I took reasonable precautions and wore a mask indoors and while traveling, more than most. But I did travel (this was our second trip to Europe during the pandemic), go to movies, and I ate out frequently. I don’t go to the gym, but that is because I prefer exercising outdoors. I hope I wasn’t smug about not getting COVID-19 because that is not OK! I think virtually everyone will get COVID at some point, regardless of their lifestyle and precautions.
This brings me to COVID-19 stigma.
What is stigma:
A set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something.
- the stigma associated with mental illness = the stigma of mental illness
- the stigma of being poor = the stigma of poverty
- There’s a social stigma attached to receiving welfare.
The Britannica Dictionary
We often associate mental illness, drug use, HIV, etc. with stigma, but COVID-19 is on the list, as well.
In my former role as the moderator of Hot Topics in Public Health, I moderated a session with the State Medical Epidemiologist for Washington State. He did a great session on M-Pox (monkey pox). Here is a link to more information about the session, along with his slides. Slide 19 is a list of diseases that create the most stigma, such as M-Pox, HIV, TB, obesity, diabetes, lung cancer, and COVID-19.
A lot of people have had COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Nobody seems to be embarrassed or reluctant to say they got the flu, another respiratory virus. The same should be true for COVID-19, at least by now.
I’m not happy I had COVID-19, particularly in Italy. But I am grateful to be fully vaxxed and boosted x1, which likely kept me from getting seriously ill, hospitalized, or dying (in a foreign country).