Saturday, November 1, 2014

Overcoming Ebola stigma takes time

IRIN: Ebola survivors in Liberia and Sierra Leone are facing mixed reactions as they return home after contracting the deadly virus. While some have been welcomed back into their communities, most are facing discrimination and stigmatization, or have even been shunned.

"I returned back to the community very happy," said Ibrahim Thomas, who lives in Freetown. "I didn't have any problems with the community or anybody. The worshippers at my mosque used to pray for me [when I was sick], so when I came back, they were so happy to see me alive and well."  Thomas, who lost his wife and two of his children to Ebola, said many of his neighbours have been sympathizing with him and doing what they can to help.

But not all survivors are so lucky. "I was devastated when I returned to my community," said 27-year-old Alhaji Bangura, who lost both parents, his wife and two children to Ebola in Sierra Leone. "I was very lucky to survive. but now some people are still afraid of me, even to come very close to me. I had so many friends before but now most of them have distanced themselves from me."  Bangura said most people will only talk to him outside their home and often refuse to give him any food or drink....

Scanning electron micrograph of Ebola virus budding from the surface of a Vero cell (African green monkey kidney epithelial cell line). Credit: NIAID, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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