Jeanette Terry was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old, and she has since lived with diabetes through difficult life transitions, including the teenage years, college, and having children. She addresses the day-to-day struggles of living with diabetes—going beyond medical advice—to improve overall adherence and management.
A study from the University of Antwerp in Belgium surveyed 17 nations and found that people all over the world living with diabetes feel discriminated against.
Discrimination is a heavy word and carries with it a lot of connotations. There are many levels of discrimination, and people with diabetes may experience any range of those levels—from issues at work to lack of support in personal relationships.
The study revealed that the United States had the lowest level of people who said they felt discriminated against, at 10 percent. So, good for the U.S. for embracing the fact that diabetes is a real medical issue that can't be pushed under the rug. This provides more knowledge about diabetes and equality for those living with it.
The survey asked both people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes if they felt discriminated against because they had diabetes. Johan Wens, MD, professor of general practice medicine reported that "participants with type 1 diabetes were more likely to believe they were being discriminated against." However, Wens said, "people with type 2 diabetes were more likely to report workplace problems."
Results of this study also revealed that 52 percent of people living with type 2 diabetes felt unsupported by their communities, compared to 44 percent of people living with type 1 diabetes.
Treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be vastly different, and that may play a role in how these individuals felt when it comes to discrimination and being supported.
Type 1 treatment has to be more individualized, and treatment can be a lot more rigorous than type 2 diabetes. That's not to say that it's harder to live with one or the other, but type 1 diabetes can often be more noticeable, which may be why people with type 1 believed they experienced more discrimination, in my view.
Either way, we all need support and resources as we navigate this sometimes unforgiving disease.
Have you ever felt discriminated against because of your diabetes? What, if anything, did you do about it? Share your experiences in the comments below. We can all learn from one another.