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Stigma associated with cutaneous leishmaniasis in rural Sri Lanka: development of a conceptual framework.


Background: There is limited knowledge about the stigma associated with cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) in Sri Lanka. To ensure that leishmaniasis researchers focus on CL-associated stigma, we provide an evidence-based framework that can be used in future research.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review on CL-associated stigma using international evidence and carried out a multimethod qualitative study in the Anuradhapura district in Sri Lanka. Based on that, we identified manifestations of stigma, drivers and facilitators that we synthesised to develop a conceptual framework on CL-associated stigma.

Results: Our framework consists of drivers, facilitators and self-stigma experienced by people with CL. Stigma drivers included fear, misbeliefs and misconceptions about CL; the belief that wounds are disfiguring; the treatment burden and implied blame. Facilitators that reduced stigma included knowledge of the curability of CL and awareness that CL is not contagious. The nature of social interactions in rural communities enhanced stigma formation. We identified various enacted, felt and internalised stigma experiences of people with CL.

Conclusions: We developed a conceptual framework of the stigma associated with CL that can be used to develop targeted interventions to increase CL awareness, address stigma and improve the quality of life for CL patients.

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Journal Article
Nuwangi H
Dikomitis L
Weerakoon K
Liyanage C
Agampodi T
Agampodi S