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The Stigma and Shame of Leprosy— Visiting The Leprosy Center in China

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

Have you ever heard of leprosy? It has existed since biblical times and is feared for generations as a contagious disease that leaves its victims deformed and maimed. Leprosy is a serious chronic illness caused by Leprae bacillus, a bacterium. Leprosy manifests as skin sensory disturbances and peripheral nerve thickening and destruction. Common symptoms of leprosy are numb skin lesions, enlarged nerves, and in some cases even severe disability.

Children infected with leprosy in the 1960s.

This video shows the life of a villager named Maba, who has recovered from leprosy.

An estimated 200,000 people in China today have recovered from leprosy, but more than half (110,000) are disabled due to the illness. They live with conditions ranging from blindness to disfigurement. Although these former patients were cured in the last fifty years, many of them still suffer serious pain and difficulties because of disabilities resulting from leprosy, as well as social stigma. The latter has become a prominent problem in leprosy diagnosis and treatment today.

GLRF visited The Leprosy Center in China. Although they are cured from the Leprosy bacteria infection, the scars and physical damage remain. They are usually very lonely, as even their family members do not visit them. Our visit made them feel warm and happy.

Young volunteers taught children in The Leprosy Center English.

In 2015, we visited The Leprosy Center. People were so happy to meet us. Some of them cried because they usually do not have visitors. We hugged them, spread love and hope with them, and made them feel warm and happy. Those with leprosy should be treated equally and kindly, like most people desire to be treated.

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