Infectious Disease Stigmas: Maladaptive in Modern Society

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33 Scopus citations


At multiple times in human history people have asked if there are good stigmas. Is there some useful function stigmas serve in the context of our evolutionary history; is stigma adaptive? This article discusses stigmas as a group-selection strategy and the human context in which stigmas likely appeared. The next section explores how human patterns have changed in modern society and the consequences for infectious disease (ID) stigmas in the modern age. The concluding section suggests that while social-living species may be particularly apt to create and communicate ID stigmas and enact ID-related stigmatization, such stigma-related processes no longer function to protect human communities. Stigmas do not increase the ability of modern societies to survive infectious diseases but, in fact, may be important drivers of problematic disease dynamics and act as catalysts for failures in protecting public health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-138
Number of pages7
JournalCommunication Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication


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