New language guide addresses misinformation and stigma around COVID-19

The BC Centre for Disease Control has released a new language guide for writing about COVID-19. The aim is to make content more inclusive and to reduce stigma and unnecessary fears.
By: Heather Marie Connors
August 14, 2020
BCCDC COVID-19 Language Guide, p.11

A BCCDC survey conducted this spring revealed that some communities experience greater stress and stigma related to COVID-19. Informed in part by the survey results, a new language guide developed by the Centre contains recommendations on terms and phrases that can be used to describe COVID-19 and its effect on individuals. Using person-first language, the guide includes definitions, language options, and explains why these recommendations are being made.

One example is replacing words like “infected” or “infections” with the phrase “COVID-19 virus transmissions”.

"The word infection may carry a stigma or stigmatizing language about being contagious or a threat or unclean," says Harlan Pruden, an educator with the BCCDC Chee Mamuk program who helped develop the guide. "It is just reframing, what we're trying to do is dispel stigmatizing and fear-based language."

The guide serves as acknowledgement that some language can exclude individuals, leading to unequal access to information - information that is necessary to help people make choices regarding how to protect themselves and others during the pandemic.

Source: CBC News


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