I read yesterday — in a Facebook post from someone I respect for the fresh and solidifying presence she brings to my news feed — comments likening the current CORVID-19 coronavirus to AIDS.
Fear was the thread running through her opinion piece, and the need compassion was her premise, but in passing on her thoughts she was contributing to the misinformation that perpetuates the spread of unreasonable and incomprehensible actions.
The writer correctly identified that each of us is at risk for coronavirus COVID-19, and further that many of us are scared. But her assumption that we are as scared as those who live (or lived) with HIV or AIDS is as damaging as it is disrespectful.
HIV/AIDS is nothing like CORVID-19. The human immunodeficiency virus which leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is blood borne while COVID-19 is airborne.
HIV is an infection caused by contact with blood, pre-ejaculate semen and vaginal fluids. Coronavirus spreads in a manner similar to influenza; by respiratory droplets from coughing settling on skin, office building doorknobs and subway straps.
You can get the coronavirus from a handshake. It can take a more intimate (and perhaps careless) encounter to become infected with HIV.
Of course my explanation is an over-simplification, but the reality is there. In the 80s this woman refers to in her Facebook post, HIV was surely a death sentence. Coronavirus, in 2020, is not even close. Yes, the global death rate increases daily, but COVID-19 is a virus you can recover from. In fact, many of the original cases of the coronavirus we currently fear have since recovered from the infection.
Yes we need compassion, as this woman clearly states, but we also need sound minds to prevail. We need to wash our hands. We need to isolate ourselves if we are feeling poorly. We need to keep our distance from people, and we need to follow sound advice from medical professionals
What we don’t need is loose talk, which will further confuse an already concerned population. Misinformation breeds fear, and there is already too much of that going around; both fear and misinformation.