Cadernos de Saúde Pública
On-line version ISSN 1678-4464
ROMERO-SALAZAR, Alexis et al. The stigma in the social representation of leprosy. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 1995, vol.11, n.4, pp. 535-542. ISSN 1678-4464. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-311X1995000400002.
Social representation of leprosy in active patients under medical control is made up elements that come from the medical discourse and also from the discourse that about this disease circulates in society. This syncretism is expressed in each context a specific way on the components of the representation notion, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors - making of it a complex reality. On account of beliefs importance, whose depth and roots are linked to the thousand of years this disease has been known and to the seclusion practices in force till recent times, it would be comprehensible the predominance of elements related to common sense or popular knowledge. Nevertheless, as the representation is a collective construction, its fundamental features would be defined according to the specific characteristics of the group. To this respect, the main finding of this research referred to: first, the limited knowledge around this disease and the existence of beliefs and inadequated attitudes for controlling programs of active patients registered in the Maracaibo Service of Sanitary Dermatology located in Venezuela (Servicio de Dermatologia Sanitaria de Maracaibo (SDSMJ, Venezuela); second, a predominance of a congnitive dimension of representation, notions and beliefs relate to the role of fortune and fate, sexual promiscuity or heritage in the contagion; third, a patient's tendency to reproduce a disqualified stereotype and hide the disease due to an exaggerated rejection fear.
Keywords : Leprosy; Social Representation; Stigma.