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We talk to Tatler friends in order to de-stigmatise testing positive for COVID-19, encourage contact tracing, and following health protocols

Have you tested positive for COVID-19? You are not alone. Around the world, there have been stories shared about people feeling ashamed and afraid to share that they got the novel coronavirus. Perhaps they are anticipating some sort of a blame game to ensue, fear of judgement, or are just in a moment of denial. There could also be the thought of social shame which could add to anxiety and stress levels, worsening your symptoms from a mental or even physical standpoint.

“Several patients with COVID-19 have struggled with feeling excessive guilt as if they did something wrong, even if they followed all the recommendations to stay safe,” said Sheehan Fisher, a psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. 

However, we want to de-stigmatise being COVID positive; there is no shame in it. If you have followed proper precautions, the blame you are fearing is misplaced. We need to be kind to one another because of the widespread and infectious nature of this virus. In truth, everyone is at risk. To report your status and contact trace is paramount to our ability to move forward.  

See also: 15 Places to Book COVID-19 Home Testing

I tested positive in July of 2020 and admittedly was quite nervous to let anybody know my status. However, after much thought, I shared my experience and helped friends who needed advise when going through the symptoms themselves. Oftentimes, people do not know what to expect or what they should be doing to care for themselves. To learn that you are not alone, that your peers or people that you look up to also went through the same experience, can be quite comforting. This is also true when it comes to learning about vaccinations and their efficacy in battling tough symptoms.

While you may not want to share your story publicly, don't be overwhelmed by concerns about what others will think of you. Contact tracing and coming to terms with how to care of yourself mentally and physically often means discussing your status with your family or a doctor.

We spoke to five friends who shared what they went through when they tested positive, and what they have to say about COVID-19 shaming.

See also: Do Viruses Become Less Deadly to Survive? Is Omicron the Beginning of the end?

1. Karen Davila

Tatler Asia
Above Photo by Mark Nicdao

Broadcast journalist

How did you deal with having COVID-19? What helped you through it?

Knowing we were fully vaccinated and with the boosters definitely helped. It lessened the anxiety. Having the right information on treatment for me was key. Being a journalist, I knew exactly how to take care of the kids and my husband, and what supplements to take. Being quarantined together actually really helped. I really treasured time with the kids, quiet prayer time, and the feeling of not having to rush for a deadline.

What were your symptoms like?

I feel grateful that as a family, we [only] got mild symptoms. I just had a lump in my throat and felt fatigued during the first two days, taking long naps. My kids had more symptoms—they felt feverish on the first day, had scratchy throats, and my younger son had [a] dry cough. My husband, DJ felt the symptoms the most because his last vaccination was six months ago and he hadn’t had his booster shots yet. The symptoms vary but they were all quite manageable.

What made you want to share publicly?

When I first found out we had COVID-19, I personally messaged people I interacted with over the holidays and informed our condo unit. I prioritised taking care of the kids first. I was taking care of the family and still on my morning show, HEADSTART, via Zoom. On the fifth day, the end of the first work week, I felt the need to share it on social media because viewers were asking why I wasn’t on the evening news and saw it as an opportunity to encourage people to get vaccinated and let people feel they weren’t alone.

This recent COVID-19 surge was happening to everyone—it [seemed like it] was in every home, every family. People shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed for getting COVID-19 and I noticed that on social media, some were made to feel that way.

What do you have to say about COVID-19 shaming?

It was my doctor who told me, there is so much victim-blaming and COVID-19 shaming in our culture which is why people keep denying they have symptoms. I find that to be quite dangerous. And on a personal note, someone on Instagram actually criticised me with a misogynistic comment, saying all I did was travel and go to Boracay. Imagine that! That’s outright COVID-19 shaming right there. Talking about it is my own little way of changing the mindsets of people [and asserting] that we are all in this together as a community. It is happening to all of us, not just some of us.

See also: Make Sure you Find a Good Mask: What is the Difference Between KN94 and N95?

2. Nix Alañon

Tatler Asia
Above Photo: @nixalanon/Instagram

Co-Founder and principal designer of FTA Design

How did you deal with having COVID-19? What helped you through it?

Lots of sleep and rest. I don’t think I have ever consumed as many fruits on a daily basis before, but that also helped me a lot.

What were your symptoms like?

It started with a sore throat, a little cough, runny nose, and congestion. I had a slight fever which went on and off, but overall, my symptoms were mild compared to a lot of other cases I hear.

What made you want to share publicly?

Since I use social media as an online platform to share my experiences, having COVID-19 was very much part of what was happening in my reality at the time. I wanted to be honest about what I was going through and also help de-stigmatise getting the virus.

What do you have to say about COVID-19 shaming?

I have not experienced this personally, however having COVID-19 should not be a taboo topic that is kept in the dark.

See also: Should I Drink Ivermectin? 

3. Ash Rye

Tatler Asia
Above Photo: @ash_rye/Instagram

Marketing, public relations, events consultant

How did you deal with having COVID-19? What helped you through it?

I'm lucky to be fully vaccinated and boosted so the symptoms were very mild for me. It was really friends that helped me through it. A few close friends had already had COVID-19 and were recovering when I contracted it, so I touched base with them once I found out so I could prepare. Aside from that, I made sure I had some paracetamol on hand and overdosed myself with fresh fruit and juices rich in vitamin C. 

What were your symptoms like?

I would say my symptoms were very mild. [On] days one and two I had slight congestion, night sweats, and a headache which stayed around until day three but by day four I was feeling normal already, just a little tired and lethargic. I've already tested negative at home but will continue to isolate and arrange a PCR test for peace of mind. 

What made you want to share publicly?

I am usually pretty game to share most things on social media and to be honest, I think I shared out of isolation boredom. I didn't think too much about sharing that I was positive even though I knew there is a bit of stigma attached to it. 

What do you have to say about COVID-19 shaming?

You shouldn't feel any shame nor should you shame. We've lived with COVID-19 for almost two years, and with the latest surge of omicron and watching what is happening globally, it looks like this is going to be a variant we will live with for many years. I really worry that “COVID shaming” might deter those infected from doing proper contact tracing which is an integral step in making sure we don't pass it on to the immunocompromised and the elderly. No one wants COVID-19 and there is still a lot of anxiety around getting it, so let's all just be a bit more compassionate to each other.

When I shared online that I was positive I had so many people message asking me if I was ok and if I needed anything which was really kind. I'll make a real effort to remember these people because I would want to be there for them if ever they test positive, it's a long road ahead and it is important we look after each other always, with or without a pandemic.

See also: Where to Order Healthy Food Meal-Plans

4. Stacy Rodriguez and Carlos Del Prado

Tatler Asia
Above Photo: @eustaciarod/Instagram

Fashion designers and entrepreneurs: EC and Studio Eustacia 

How did you deal with having COVID-19? What helped you through it?

Stacy Rodriguez (SR): My boyfriend Carlos and I dealt with it by still keeping busy throughout all of it and forming somewhat of a routine. What definitely helped was all the love from our family and friends—all their gifts and well wishes really warmed our hearts even during the most difficult part.

What were your symptoms like?

SR: close to no symptoms!
Carlos del Prado: I had a fever and a very bad sore throat but I was only down for three days.

What made you want to talk about having COVID-19 publicly on social media?

SR: We think the biggest setback we have with COVID-19 in this country is the stigma behind it. Transparency can help us battle this.

5. AA Patawaran

Tatler Asia
Above Photo by Shaira Luna from @aapatawaran/Instagram

Lifestyle editor, Manila Bulletin 

How did you deal with having COVID-19? What helped you through it?

My whole seven-person household came down with the flu. I personally didn't get any symptoms. But, we assumed we got COVID-19, so we isolated ourselves and treated the symptoms like the common flu.

I am in touch with doctors, and also edit the column of Dr Edsel Salvana, one of the principal advisers of IATF on COVID-19 concerns. I think, based on IATF guidelines, PCR tests are on a need-be basis now. With omicron being so easily transmissible, there is a need to reserve PCR kits for severe and critical cases or for seniors, those with co-morbidities, and the unvaccinated.

What do you have to say about COVID-19 shaming?

No to COVID-shaming. It's not your fault if you get it. We all have been quite responsible in general.

Whether you are confirmed to be COVID-positive or simply feel a tad ill, it is important to take note of how Patawaran and his household reacted. He shared his sentiments and experience publicly on Facebook to help educate people that they should take any symptom and exposure seriously. Thank you, Karen, Stacy, Ash, Nix, and AA, for telling your stories and helping let people know that they are not alone. 

With these stories shared, we hope that everyone continues to stay safe, be mindful, and act kindly. 


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