Defying stigma, survivors join the Ebola fight in West Africa
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
High school teacher Fanta Oulen Camara spent two weeks in March fighting for her life against the deadly Ebola virus but her darkest days came after she was cured of the disease and returned to her home in Guinea.
“Most of my friends stopped visiting. They didn’t speak to me. They avoided me,” the 24-year-old said. “I wasn’t allowed to teach anymore.”
The worst outbreak of Ebola on record has killed 5,000 people in West Africa, mostly in Guinea and neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone. But thousands more have survived, ostracised by fearful communities ravaged by the disease.
In the face of such stigmatization, Ebola survivors like Camara are joining an association in Guinea that assists the growing number of people who recover and seeks ways for them to help combat the disease.
Survivors are believed to have immunity from Ebola thanks to antibodies in their blood, making them a powerful weapon in a fight against the virus.