Barriers To Care: Stigma

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Diabetes stigma is real. People who do not have diabetes may not understand that it is commonly stigmatized, but people with diabetes are reminded of it every time we hear a diabetes joke about your chocolate cake, losing limbs, or being asked, “Should you be eating that?”

Spoiler: Yes. The answer is always, “Yes I should be eating this, and I may have more when I’m done with this,” (tone/ sarcasm). Fortunately, not everyone is as snarky as I can be when it comes to diabetes stigma.

While my attempt at humor helps me in coping with stigma, it doesn’t help to change anything. In fact, it’s counterproductive. In order to change the stigma surrounding diabetes, we have to be willing to take people seriously and educate them when they perpetuate stigma.

So what is the best way to accomplish a change in or elimination of stigma?


Diabetes Australia is way ahead of the game when it comes to ending diabetes stigma as a barrier to care. When I started this blog, I was blessed by the DOC presence of Renza via her blog Diabetogenic. Renza works with Diabetes Australia and has been actively involved with the Heads Up on Diabetes campaign.


This week, I attended a digital conference held by DiaTribe called d21 Lightning Talks: Stigma and the Stories We Tell. According to the website for the event, the idea for the talks stemmed from a TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called The Danger of a Single Story. It’s about 20 minutes, and I highly recommend it.

“The single story creates stereotypes. And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


The only way perceptions will change is if we are willing to tell our transparent stories, correct misconceptions, and educate about the reality of living with diabetes.

How do you deal with diabetes stigma? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, or email me at

  1. Schabert, J., Browne, J.L., Mosely, K. et al. Social Stigma in Diabetes. Patient 6, 1–10 (2013).

Published by

Sonja Cunningham

20 years survived with T1D, 2021 Executive MBA candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno

4 thoughts on “Barriers To Care: Stigma”

  1. Stigma? I don’t need no damn Stigma. I suffered from stigma for 20 years. Find it confront it, and stamp it out. We have to do it for our teenagers, who can’t stand up for themselves yet. We have to do it for the children not yet born who will have it worse if we do not stand up. This is our moment. Thank you, Australia.



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