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Chain of Infection

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Chain of Infection





I cannot help but see a striking similarity between a virus and medical stigma.

There is a sequence science uses called the “Chain of Infection”. Most frequently demonstrated as a visual using links to signify the importance of each step and the necessity of breaking a link to reduce the spread of illness.

The chain is as follows; Pathogen, Reservoir, Portal of Exit, Mode of Transportation, Portal of Entry, and finally Next Sick Person.

Pathogens; Medical Professionals

Reservoir; They come with a preconceived notion or assumption about a diagnosis. This notion or assumption stays in their minds, this is where the stigmas start to grow. Opinions are formed and now the stigma has the strength to grow and mutate.

Portal of Exit; With their perception of a diagnosis now tarnished they open their mouths. They speak in a manner that gives an indication of their preconceived notions and it is now ready to spread to surrounding minds.

Mode of Transmission; As with any virus, it is too small to be seen at first. Someone holding a stigma doesn’t show they are a carrier of such a virus but everywhere they go, every person they meet is exposed to this virus through their touch, mouth, and eyes.

Portal of Entry; Young minds seeking education and understanding are met with flawed, faulty, and ignorant information. This virus, a stigma, passed from peers and educators is transferred around, seeking new hosts to bind to.

Next Sick Person; Vulnerable, young, and susceptible minds, while yes, some are immune but the majority contract the virus to varying degrees of severity. The stigma has been integrated and the cycle inevitably repeats itself.

And unfortunately, you with a diagnosis are caught in the middle. It is not until those preconceived notions are eliminated that we can start to re-educate, break the link in the cycle, and stop the stigma.

I don’t write this with complete answers to this issue in mind, I write this as a mother and caregiver frustrated with how the world can be so concerned with some things yet ignore what can be and has been for many both life changing and life threatening.

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