Why Negative Stereotyping Can Be A Threat To One's Health

By Joshua Williams, Parent Herald December 07, 04:00 am

Black people are undoubtedly the most affected by HIV infections and the numbers seem to be increasing in terms of diagnosis. The disease originated in late 80's and an initially "white gay male disease" but it turned out to reach the extreme levels in the communities of people of color.

These patients are already stigmatized and have to go through another painful experience. Healthcare stereotypes, knowingly or unknowingly by health care providers could affect those who are assumed to have such infections. Dr. Cleopatra Abdou, the pioneer of the experimental study on healthcare stereotypes gave an interview to NBC and explained the phenomenon.

Abdou, in collaboration with Dr. Adam Fingerhurt, presented the concept of health care stereotypes and the dangers associated with it. Upon asking about the threat, she said that a stigmatized individual (be it related to their sexual orientation, gender, race or any physical appearance) worries that they are going to be judged in the health care settings.

Stereotyping has affected those individuals with HIV and AIDS. Early diagnosis is critical for patients with HIV infections, not just the patient himself but also for those around him.

Due to the negative stereotype, patients avoid seeking medical assistance from physicians because they think that they are going to be judged. This stereotype threat often lead to anxiety and depression, leaving patients to get sick more. 

That is why Abdou is urging for a positive campaign that could create some changes and would help eradicate the stereotypical images from people's minds. She said that education is the key to discredit such an ill perspective. In her opinion, the goal is to transform the interaction between patients and medical staff and things will change gradually.

Meanwhile, a detailed literature on Dr. Abdou's stereotype threat research can be found on 22 Anthem. It gives a full guideline to reduce the threat in a step-by-step approach.

So, do you agree that negative stereotyping could have an adverse impact on one's health? Please sound off below. 

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