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Background: Negative attitude and stigma against leprosy patients constrain them to resort to concealing their status thus resulting in delayed detection, treatment, complications and perpetuation of the condition in the locality. This study was aimed at finding out the prevailing attitude and stigma toward leprosy in the community with a view to addressing the fueling factors.
Materials and Methods: It was descriptive cross sectional study. Semi-structured interviewer administered questionnaires were used for data collection. Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue (EMIC), was used to grade stigma against leprosy amongst participants. Answers to questions in the questionnaire were assigned scores which were summed up into percentage breakpoints. A respondent was interpreted as having favorable or unfavorable attitude to leprosy depending on his or her percentage sum of score.
Stigma was categorized based on the sum of an individual’s EMIC score as high, moderate or low level of stigma. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 20.
Results: The study revealed that only 44(15%) of respondents had favorable attitude towards leprosy whereas 250(85%) had unfavorable attitude towards this group. Attitude to leprosy was observed to be significantly related to age and sex of respondent, religion and ethnicity, p-value< 0.05. EMIC profile of the study respondents revealed that 47(16%) demonstrated low stigma, 81(28%) demonstrated moderate stigma and 166(56%) demonstrated high stigma towards leprosy. There was no statistically significant relationship between stigma and socio-demographic variables.
Conclusion: Misunderstanding and misconceptions about leprosy and leprosy patients is still well rooted in the norms and culture of the people of Ikun, breeding negative attitude and stigma toward leprosy. Vigorous leprosy awareness programs structured along the lines of attitude-stigma influencing socio-demographic variables, with emphasis on the cause, transmission, diagnosis and treatment of leprosy will help to stem the tide of myths and misconceptions.
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