Minutes after Indonesia announced its first two cases, the names of Sita Tyasutami and her mother leaked online with their phone numbers and home address. Hundreds of WhatsApp messages flooded in.
People shared photos of Tyasutami, a 31-year-old professional dancer, shimmying in a feathered Brazilian samba bikini, and spread baseless speculation that she contracted the virus after being “rented” by a foreign male client.
“My face is everywhere now, I can’t hide it,” she said.
Studies show that when people link disease to behavior, they are more likely to blame the sick and ostracize them. Researchers have found people harbor negative attitudes towards individuals with a wide range of illnesses, with HIV/AIDS often at the top. But even those with seemingly lesser conditions can experience stigma.