Nazish Imran, Hadia Afzal, Irum Aamer, Ali Madeeh Hashmi, Bilquis Shabbir, Aftab Asif, Saeed Farooq.
Scarlett Letter: a study based on experience of stigma by COVID-19 patients in quarantine.
Pak J Med Sci Jan ;36(7):1471-7.

Background and Objectives: Stigma around COVID-19 is a major barrier in global efforts to control the COVID 19 pandemic. Limited data is available regarding stigma faced by COVID-19 patients in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). The aim of the current study was to explore the stigma experienced by hospitalized patients with COVID-19 illness in Lahore, Pakistan. Methods: Following Institutional Review Board approval and informed consent, patients were assessed using modified HIV short form stigma scale and open-ended questions. Questions focused on experiences, feelings, and opinions as to how patients feel and how they were treated prior to and during the hospitalization. Data analysis for quantitative data was performed using SPSS-20, while qualitative responses were interpreted by content analysis method. Results: One hundred and fourteen patients were interviewed (Mean age 38.8 years + 15.3) with 53.5% being males. Widespread experience of stigma was reported by patients particularly for concerns about public attitudes (7.43 + 1.43) & disclosure (6.89 + 1.45). Main themes which emerged from the qualitative responses were social stigma and rejection, humiliating behaviour of others, breach of confidentiality, loss of trust/ respect, and impact of COVID-19 diagnosis on their business. Conclusions: Existence of significant stigma among COVID-19 patients isolated in a tertiary care hospital in a LMIC highlights the need for culturally sensitive strategies to address it.

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