Unfortunate as it may be, admitting that one has Hepatitis C carries a negative social stigma that can be almost as harmful as the disease itself. Hepatitis C is a disease that has somehow been associated with derelict behavior. How did this come to be? Some might argue that the stigma has become attached to HCV due to its modes of transmission, but if you were to ask someone how HCV is spread, it’s likely that they don’t even know. One of the primary causes of this unnecessary stigma is the lack of education surrounding the disease. People simply aren’t aware of the many different ways HCV can be spread, or the preventive methods you can take to protect yourself.
Think back to when you were in school, you probably weren’t taught much, if anything, about Hepatitis C in health class. Most of the class was probably focused on more “common” diseases, like HIV or even STDs. Well, if you look at the statistics, HCV is seven times more infectious than HIV, which means that education is severely lacking in today’s society. Due to the lack of common knowledge about the virus, its transmission rates are skyrocketing, and Hepatitis C is becoming more widespread than ever. The more people learn about and understand the disease, the more likely the stigma will be dropped, and those currently living with HCV won’t have to worry about being unfairly treated or judged.
Stereotypes abound about the kind of person who gets Hepatitis C. Many people think that you have to be promiscuous or a drug user to be infected with the virus. In actuality, corrupt behavior doesn’t lead to HCV transmission; any type of situation where blood-to-blood contact is made with an infected person can spread the virus.
It’s a common saying that people are afraid of what they don’t know. Educating the American public about Hepatitis C will help to eliminate this fear and consequently the misconceptions that are the root of the stigma attached to this virus.
Learn more about what you can do to help remove the social stigma from the Hepatitis C virus.