DES MOINES, Iowa — It's been seven months since Iowa's first confirmed case of COVID-19, and there's still a lot of unknowns.
The unknown is what can lead to a social stigma.
An Iowan named Bryan that spoke with Local 5 said he felt targeted by his neighbors following his coronavirus diagnosis.
He stayed home for a month after getting his results, and had to deal with gossip on top of the virus.
The anticipation of a coronavirus test result can keep a person on edge until they finally know if they're positive or not.
Local 5 spoke with Dr. Yogesh Shah, the chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs at Broadlawns Medical Center.
"Talking to people, especially minorities, I get the sense and I hear from people, 'No, we'd rather not get tested because after testing what's going to happen? We will not be able to work or I'll not be able to go and do things'," Dr. Shah said.
"There is a fear."
Shah said the best way to stop stigmatizing illnesses is to educate yourself.
So, what is a social stigma? By definition, it means "discrimination against groups of people."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says COVID-19 is stigmatized for a variety of reasons, the first being that it's new. There's still a lot to learn about the virus.
Second, a lot of people are talking about it, but it's not all factual.
Third, some people are afraid of the long-term effects of the virus or dying from it.
Lastly, many feel that they need to blame someone for the pandemic.
"Since there are many unknowns of who will get who will not, there's a fear," Shah said. "That fear becomes, 'Hey, I need to now blame somebody else', and that blame goes on person who is COVID-positive."
Make sure your sources are credible when educating yourself about COVID-19, like the CDC or local public health officials.
Dr. Shah said factual information about the safety of vaccines, the importance of widespread testing and proper mitigation strategies are key to ending this pandemic.
"The facts, not fear, will stop COVID-19."
WATCH: Complete coronavirus coverage on Local 5's YouTube channel