No country has been hit harder by the Ebola virus than Liberia. At least 2,705 people have died during this epidemic -- more than twice the death toll of Sierra Leone and nearly three times Guinea's.
In the West African countries most devastated by the disease, in a region where upwards of 70 percent of people infected by Ebola wind up dying, fear has been an understandably constant presence. Stigma is not far behind -- even for those who survive.
In response, a group of Liberian women have coined a new mantra: "I am a Liberian, not a virus."
In a video, one of those women, Shoana Clarke Solomon, described an experience shared by many Liberians who feel blamed for a virus they did nothing to bring upon themselves.
"Imagine someone saying to your child: 'You're from Liberia, you have a disease,' " Solomon said in the video. "We are Liberians, Sierra Leonians, Guineans and Nigerians. We live in a region that has been devastated by a deadly disease, but we are not all infected."
She added: "It is wrong to stereotype and stigmatize an entire people. Remember we are human beings."
In Dallas, where Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola and treated for the virus before he died, Liberians were stigmatized by other Liberians as well as the community at large:
Youngor Jallah, 35, who cared for Duncan before calling the ambulance to get him, was told Sunday by CDC officials that she no longer has to isolate herself and her family.
“They came today to say it is okay if I want to go out,” she said.
But Youngor said she feels that people outside her apartment do not want her to come close. Last week, a neighbor standing outside Youngor’s home pointed a finger at her door.
“That is the Ebola family there,” the woman said.
As a result of the fear that seemed to grip the United States after two nurses who'd treated Duncan contracted the disease, people from other African nations are also being singled out.
New Jersey students who were from Rwanda -- where there are no cases of Ebola -- have been blocked from attending school for 21 days despite showing no symptoms. An Oregon high school canceled a planned visit by 18 African students -- all from countries untouched by Ebola -- citing a "fluid" situation in West Africa.
In an interview with the Root, Solomon summed up the view of many Liberians who feel battered by a string of bad experiences -- first war, then disease, and now stigma.
"Liberians have suffered enough," Solomon said. "First it was a civil war, which lasted 14 years. As if that was not enough, we now have the Ebola virus. By the way, we did not start the virus or invent it. On the contrary, it discovered us."