Acceptability of chemoprophylaxis for household contacts of leprosy patients in Bangladesh: a qualitative study.
OBJECTIVES: Chemoprophylaxis with single dose rifampicin is a promising intervention to prevent leprosy in close contacts of patients. However, application in control programmes often requires disclosure of the leprosy diagnosis, which is still a stigmatised disease in many countries. Promoting control and treatment of stigmatised diseases without contributing towards stigma of the individuals involved can be very difficult. The objective of this study was to assess the social acceptability of disclosure of the diagnosis and the attitude towards taking prophylactic medicines in a leprosy endemic area in Bangladesh.
DESIGN: Qualitative study through focus group discussions with 136 healthy men and women from different age groups and religions, coming from two rural villages and an urban area in northwest Bangladesh, and 14 health workers with extensive experience with leprosy patients.
RESULTS: The participants would not object to disclosure of the diagnosis to household members and nearby family if they were diagnosed with leprosy. However, many participants were not willing to share this information with their neighbours and other social contacts due to stigma of the disease. All healthy participants were willing to take chemoprophylaxis if any of their close contacts were diagnosed with leprosy, even after explaining that full protection against leprosy was not guaranteed.
CONCLUSION: It can be concluded that chemoprophylaxis for household contacts of leprosy patients is an effective and socially acceptable addition to the current leprosy control programme. Chemoprophylaxis for other categories of contacts likely to benefit would only be feasible, without disclosure of patient information, if given in the form of mass campaigns for the whole population in the area.