We asked people with a liver condition if they have experienced stigma. Almost three quarters said yes.
Our results show the shocking levels of stigma that people with a liver condition still face. And the many ways that it affects their lives.
We would like to thank everyone who took part in the survey and shared their stories with us.
Stigma is unfair comments and treatment. It is based on stereotypes, and the assumption that a person is somehow different to everyone else, and less deserving of help or kindness.
One of these false assumptions is that liver disease is only caused by alcohol. Because of this, people with all kinds of liver conditions have to answer the same questions about how much they drink over and over again. Often, even healthcare professionals do not believe them if they say they don’t drink.
“It made me very defensive when explaining my condition, I always quickly told them it was nothing to do with alcohol.”
In the UK many of us do drink alcohol and eat a less than perfect diet. But there is deep-rooted stigma against people who are seen to eat or drink “too much”. This stigma is usually not deliberate, people often don’t realise they are being hurtful. Stigma exists because of the messages that surround us all. But it means people are ashamed to ask for help or even admit to themselves that they might need it. It’s time to stamp out stigma
Being on the receiving end of unfair comments feels bad. But the impact of stigma doesn’t end there.
Stigma stops people from asking for help. This means they put off seeing a doctor until their disease is more serious.
The result is less effective treatment and worse outcomes.
“After I was blamed, I never asked for any more tests”
Stigma stops people getting help to change their diet or how much alcohol they drink. But if stigma doesn’t stand in the way, getting help early can prevent people from ever becoming unwell.
Stigma affects people with all kinds of liver conditions. We have heard from many people who have experienced this first hand.
During this campaign we will be sharing some of their stories to raise awareness of the very real and individual impact of stigma.
“I still feel very hurt about the stigma I experienced. It will never leave me”
Stamping out stigma means people can get help sooner and have better outcomes. It means that no one has to cope alone when they are unwell.
We can do this by empowering people with liver disease, their friends, families and medical professionals to challenge stigma. We can dispel the myths and assumptions about liver disease and raise awareness of the very real impact of stigma.
People with liver disease, whatever the cause, should be supported not judged. Let’s end the stigma.
Sign up to our campaign, and stand with us today to Stamp out Stigma.Add your name