Leprosy is a disease that has been associated with severe stigma throughout history. This underlies the attempt to change it name to Hansen's disease.


Factors that affect the extent of stigma:

(1) beliefs and fears of the society in which the person lives

(1a) contagiousness of leprosy

(1b) causation (curse of the gods, sinfulness of parents, etc)

(1c) curability

(2) the extent of visible manifestations shown by the patient

(3) the extent of disability caused by the disease

(4) acceptance of the disease by the patient (vs self-stigma)

(5) acceptance of the disease by family and friends

(6) acceptance of the disease by the community (vs social stigma with segregation)


The attitudes and beliefs of people can be slowly changed by education and improvements in care. However, in some societies there still remains very negative attitudes towards the disease.


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