Interpretation systems, therapeutic itineraries and repertoires of leprosy patients in a low prevalence country.
OBJECTIVES: In Peru, despite the small number of cases, there is evidence of late diagnosis and hidden prevalence of leprosy. In this context the objective of the study was to know the interpretation systems on leprosy, itineraries and therapeutic repertoires of patients diagnosed with leprosy who are in treatment or who have finished treatment.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A qualitative study was carried out, applying se mi-structured interviews to patients diagnosed with leprosy from the Loreto and Ucayali regions.
RESULTS: 30 patients were interviewed. Most did not know the mechanism of leprosy transmission. In relation to therapeutic itineraries, patients generally went to health facilities on the recommendation of third parties who knew the disease. In some cases, health personnel made a bad diagnosis. The importance of the treatment indicated by the "Ministerio de Salud" (Ministry of Health) is recognized; however, economic factors and the distance to health facilities negatively affect adherence to treatment. In addition, it was evidenced that stigma persists towards the disease.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients recognize the importance of treatment; however, they express misconceptions about the pathogenesis of leprosy, and weaknesses in the health system are also identified. These problems would lead to delay in diagnosis and treatment. It is recommended to strengthen control strategies and decentralize the care of leprosy with the participa tion of the community, patients, health personnel and healers, considering the identified barriers and a probable underdiagnosis in women.