Navigating Life & COVID-19

Stopping Coronavirus Stigma


At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ), we are committed to tackling all forms of health-related stigma—including the social stigma that has arisen as result of COVID-19.

Stigma is a preventable side effect of COVID-19 that we can combat together. Here’s how:

  1. Fight fear with facts. Avoid words like catastrophe, apocalypse, or plague. Don’t repeat or share rumors about COVID-19 on social media. Get information from reputable sources like BCBSAZ, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the World Health Organization.
  2. Avoid victimization. Refer to those with the virus as “people with COVID-19,” not victims. Don’t say that someone “spread the virus” or “infected” others. Doing so assigns blame and implies an intention to get others sick.
  3. Know stigma’s harmful effects. Stigma can have direct effects on our psychological health, which can cause stress, self-loathing, and even physical harm. People feeling that way may avoid medical care. Those who have had COVID-19 may choose not to cooperate with public health authorities who are trying to identify others who might have come in contact with the virus.
  4. Reach out. If you know someone who has or previously had COVID-19, be understanding. If they feel well enough, make a phone call or set up a video chat. Offer to bring over a meal to a family or person in quarantine, and leave it at the front door.
  5. Appreciate those on the front lines. Healthcare providers put themselves in harm’s way to treat people and save lives. Find ways to thank them for their unwavering dedication to the health and well-being of others.
  6. Get care if you need it. Anybody can get this illness and there’s nothing to be ashamed of if you do. If you start to show symptoms of COVID-19, get the help you need. Contact your healthcare provider for medical advice and follow guidelines about isolating yourself from others.

See our tips on what to do if you’ve received a positive diagnosis and how to set up a sick room.

Not everyone can treat those who are ill with COVID-19, but all of us can help stop discrimination.