Reducing Stigmatisation of Leprosy: What is Being Done?
When we hear about Hansen’s disease, commonly known as leprosy, there is an image that is immediately catapulted to our head of limb deformities and skin lesions. Although treatment for the disease is highly effective and able to reduce the symptoms and keep them under control, this disease still brings a lot of suffering to people affected due to the stigma associated. A lot has been done in the research field on this disease which, although fatal a few decades ago, is highly curable nowadays, but whose atrocious effects in the past remain in people’s memories and is the cause of the great level of stigmatization the people affected with leprosy face to this day. Leprosy has faced ostracism for centuries and this has more to do with wrong cultural beliefs and lack of knowledge than with the risks of transmission and the morbid-mortality of the disease. This article is a literature review of what has been studied on the effects of stigmatization in people’s lives, as well as the interventions that can be put in place to minimize them and how to educate society on how to embrace these people. Research shows that the involvement of affected people in stigma-reduction interventions and their empowerment has achieved great results on both how society perceives them and how they perceive themselves. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of social equality for people affected or cured from the disease that involves the community population as a whole.