Leprosy stigma

Leprosy stigma is a type of social stigma, a strong negative feeling towards a person with leprosy relating to their moral status in society.[1] It is also referred to as leprosy-related stigma, leprostigma, and stigma of leprosy.[2] Since ancient times leprosy instilled the practice of fear and avoidance in many societies because of the associated physical disfigurement and lack of understanding behind its cause. Because of the historical trauma the word "leprosy" invokes, the disease is now referred to as Hansen's disease, named after Gerhard Armauer Hansen who discovered Mycobacterium leprae, the bacterial agent that causes Hansen's disease.[3] Those who have suffered from Hansen's disease describe the impact of social stigma as far worse than the physical manifestations despite it being only mildly contagious and pharmacologically curable.[4][5] This sentiment is echoed by Weis and Ramakrishna, who noted that “the impact of the meaning of the disease may be a greater source of suffering than symptoms of the disease”.[5]