Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Swine Flu Stigma?

So, this is interesting. Over the weekend, Washington state had its first death attributed to swine flu, and the family of the deceased is arguing with the official cause of death. 

It seems they are worried about a possible stigma attached to the man having died of swine flu. The family is pointing out that he was 5'6" and over 400 pounds and had many health problems. But after autopsy, health officials insist his death was caused by complications from the flu

The family's claims through me off a bit. I can see there being a stigma attached to having swine flu. It's being treated as a particularly virulent virus and people want to avoid it, so no one wants to be exposed. But is there a stigma to having died of it? 

Other diseases that carry or have carried stigmas in the past, let's say AIDS, it seems to me, it was because there was controversy surrounding the activities that could have led people to contract the disease. With AIDS, people are not always comfortable with homosexuality, sometimes drug users can contract it, sexually promiscuous people or people who don't use protection may be at greater risk. But the flu, even the swine flu, is just an airborne illness. 

Am I missing something? I don't see the stigma.