Since the year 1873 when leprosy was officially diagnosed by Norwegian doctor Armauer Hansen and for many centuries before that, people who contract leprosy have been ostracized from their homes and communities, according to Leprosy.org. The word leprosy has been viewed with horror for hundreds of years.
The word "leper," derived from the word "leprosy," means "outcast," explains Leprosy.org. There is a strong stigma against leprosy accompanied by the terrible ostracism faced by sufferers of the disease.
While leprosy is not contagious, the symptoms cause unsightly changes in physical appearance, including dry and cracked skin, blindness, and nerve damage to feet and hands, as the World Health Organization notes. Leprosy remains a public health problem in over 115 countries as of 2015 because it is not integrated into the public commitment where financial resources are made available.
Self-reporting and early treatment remain a problem in treating leprosy due to the age-old stigma associated with this disease, according to the World Health Organization. Leprosy can be diagnosed and treated easily with medication. Over the past 20 years, 14 million leprosy patients have been cured of the disease. When given during the early stages of leprosy, treatment can prevent the development of physical disabilities. Promoting community awareness around the world and changing the image of people who have contracted leprosy can begin the process of eliminating it completely.