A young woman with many tattoos and piercings is paying for groceries with cash. The cashier is holding a bottle of cough syrup and giving her a judgmental look.

Assumptions Made: Stigma and Discrimination with Hep C

We are all capable of making assumptions, and not always with the best facts to support good conclusions. I am as guilty as the next person, but I do try to practice some degree of critical thinking. None of us wants to be the subject of false or misleading assumptions. This is in the neighborhood of that familiar topic of mine: stigma. What I am speaking of here is how assumptions are made on a more personal level.

Why do we make assumptions?

These assumptions can be made in a split-second in some cases, and right or wrong, they can impact how we connect or don’t. Like I said, I am guilty of doing this thing, and hopefully only rarely, but it is an easy trap we can fall into, as it requires such little effort. A word, a choice of clothing, a haircut style, or any preconceived notion, real or imagined, can affect how we make these assumptions. Generally, it is at the core situated in not listening or paying attention to one another. Certain words can trigger my own assumptions, and they are normally words that are attached to a dogma or campaign that evokes a certain view, theme, or feeling. These key phrases are like an alert to how I categorize the speaker, again, assuming. They are usually popular words or phrases spoken commonly, and often have no obvious real meaning or value. OK, assume away, and no, I am not "the word nazi", lol.

Assumptions and myths about hep C

You may be wondering by now what does any of this have to do with hep C. I apologize for my ramblings, but in my view, these assumptions are as I said, in the neighborhood where stigma resides. Vocabulary, accent, and place of residence (geography) all contribute to how assumptions can be made about people. Never have I seen more evidence of this than in the UK, but it is certainly not the only place. People will assume all sorts of things about hep C, and the accuracy is at times dubious at best. Combine assumptions about all these unimportant perceptions about who we may be and we have stigma and discrimination. Even when we understand it is wrong, we may not have the ability to see how we practice it ourselves. This is no excuse, and that is not my intent. My intent is only to raise it as a thing we should each be mindful about, and that includes me.

Let's treat each other better

It is not a thing that we should dwell on or spend too much time worrying about, and just being aware of how and when we do it may help. This is not political correctness, and when I hear so many attacking "PC" these days. I have to wonder if that is just a way to dismiss the level of rude and divisive language we hear every day. Extremes have never worked well for me, and the polarity we see in politics, personal and governmental, is at a fever pitch. Can we try and treat one another with respect and dignity again? Yes, of course we can. Listening to one another goes a long way, but let’s try to speak in ways that are not simply slogans or catch-phrases, and let’s try not to assume anything, because as we know, assumptions can make an a** out of you and me.

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