The dynamics of stigma in leprosy.
Leprosy in Nepal is a stigmatizing disease. This paper explores the different coping strategies employed by people affected by leprosy to manage stigma. It is based on a qualitative study conducted in the eastern part of Nepal. It will show that a difference exists between experienced stigma and the anticipation of stigma. Both types of stigma result in different coping strategies. In managing stigma people go through different phases. This paper will show that stigma is a dynamic process, and I will elaborate on the concealment cycle, as developed by Hyland, to produce a more detailed understanding of the stigmatization process in Nepal. Doing so, it highlights the importance of a mutual concealment phase and the importance of triggers to exposure and discrimination. Changing from one phase to a subsequent phase in the stigmatization process is always triggered. It highlights further, that even within the same culture and even the same village, social differentiation makes a significant difference on the impact of stigma and the coping strategies employed in managing stigma. Stigma enforces already existing inequalities in social class, gender, and age.