Take the Pledge to End Diabetes Stigma and Discrimination
On World Diabetes Day, an international consensus was published with recommendations on how to bring an end to diabetes stigma and discrimination. Here’s how can you join the global movement.
“Nobody wants to have diabetes, it’s not something you choose to have,” said Virginia Valentine, a certified diabetes care and education specialist at Clinica La Esperanza.
“And yet, many of us are blamed and shamed for something we have little control over.”
Valentine is one of the authors on “Bringing an end to diabetes stigma and discrimination: an international consensus statement on evidence and recommendations,” an international consensus paper recently published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
The recent paper is in response to the growing need for collective action to address the pervasive issue of diabetes stigma and discrimination.
What is diabetes stigma?
The upsetting reality is that roughly 4 in 5 people living with diabetes report experiencing stigma, and 1 in 3 have dealt with discrimination.
Diabetes stigma refers to the negative social judgments, stereotypes, and prejudices about diabetes that lead to feelings of blame, shame, guilt, fear, anger, and distress.
“As someone with diabetes and who is a global diabetes advocate, I know first-hand that diabetes stigma is a global issue,” said Phyllisa Deroze, director of content strategy at dQ&A and another author on the international consensus. Deroze has lived with diabetes since 2011.
“Diabetes stigma impacts women's birth choices. It takes away freedoms and it harms our health outcomes. We need to change this and change it now,” she said.
How do we end diabetes stigma?
Supported by renowned diabetes advocate, Renza Scibilia, and myself – Matthew Garza, diaTribe’s dStigmatize program manager – Speight and Holmes-Truscott brought together a global panel of 51 people who share the same passion for ending diabetes stigma and discrimination. The panel included experts, health professionals, and advocates from 18 countries, with a third represented by people who have diabetes.
The goal of this panel was to author an international consensus statement and pledge aimed at igniting a movement. The result is an extensive report that explains the current state of diabetes stigma research and offers recommendations for how we can address it.
The new report also invites individuals and organizations to take the Pledge to End Diabetes Stigma, which launched in August 2023. The pledge is a commitment to acknowledge the harmful impacts of diabetes stigma, as well as promote equity and equal treatment for people with diabetes.
“This pledge encourages people and organizations to make their commitment to ending stigma public, while also supporting people with diabetes,” said Valentine, who has type 2 diabetes.
“Signing the pledge brings awareness and action to a situation that we can all work together to change,” she added.
The pledge is essentially a promise to the diabetes community that everyone can do better to address the misconceptions and stereotypes that run rampant about diabetes and the people who live with it.
How can signing the pledge make a difference?
This type of collective action has seen success before.
“When I see what the power of collective unity has done for removing stigma around HIV/AIDS and for breast cancer awareness and research, I am hopeful that a unified collective around ending diabetes stigma can bring about big changes,” said Deroze.
It’s important to note that this research, and the pledge, are just a first step. All of us on the panel hope that this inspires a ripple effect – with organizations, companies, researchers, healthcare professionals, and policymakers – to incorporate recommendations from the international consensus into their work.
“Globally, diabetes stigma needs more attention than what it’s currently getting,” said Deroze.
The pledge is a global effort encouraging everyone to support people with diabetes, lead with respect, examine our own prejudices, challenge stigmatizing language and imagery, condemn discrimination, and support the research, initiatives, and policies that will help eradicate diabetes stigma worldwide.
It’s our hope that whether you have diabetes, a loved one with diabetes, work in the diabetes field, or simply want to live in a respectful world that doesn’t shame people for their health, you’ll sign the pledge and encourage others to do the same.
The pledge has been translated into multiple languages and endorsed by over 2,000 individuals and 260 organizations from all over the world.
To learn more about the international consensus, the expert panel members who authored it, and the Pledge to End Diabetes Stigma and Discrimination, visit EndDiabetesStigma.org. There you can sign the pledge and share it with others on social media using #EndDiabetesStigma.
Learn more about diabetes stigma and discrimination here: