DEAR HARRIETTE: I heard a doctor likening the coronavirus to the AIDS crisis the other day. At first I thought they were crazy; obviously they are very different things. But I listened some more, and what this doctor was saying is that there was a terrible stigma attached to people with AIDS, so much so that people were reluctant to say that they had the disease. Now that same thing seems true for people who have COVID-19. My neighbor, for example, has been deathly ill. I’m pretty sure he has it. But neither he nor his family will talk about it. I think if he does have it, everybody should be more cautious around him. Not to make him a pariah but to protect the rest of us from possibly catching it. Am I wrong to feel that way? How can I be a good neighbor and protect my family from possibly getting infected? -- Avoiding Hysteria
DEAR AVOIDING HYSTERIA: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has talked about how the AIDS crisis and COVID-19 bear some similarities. Both the reach of the diseases and the stigma attached to them can be compared.
You are right to be concerned about your family’s health in relation to your sick neighbor. Follow the precautions as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, especially keeping your distance and keeping your home, door knobs and all surfaces clean. What you shouldn’t do is shun him. Call and ask if he needs anything. If he is isolated at home and ill, check to see if you can bring him food or other supplies that you leave at his door. Be attentive from a distance.