There are two parts to the cure of leprosy:
The first real treatment was in the 1940s when a drug called dapsone was made available. This worked very well but unfortunately many patients began developing dapsone resistance.
Finally in the 1970’s a combination of three drugs dapsone, rifampicin, and clofazimine called MDT (Multi drug therapy) was found to be effective and is the main course of treatment today. This treatment, which has been available from 1982 means the spread of leprosy in a person’s body, is nullified. However if the Leprosy is not caught early the debilitating effects cannot be reversed. A vaccine has not yet been developed.
This leads to the second part of the cure for Leprosy and that is the caring for the whole person. Leprosy is not only a medical disease but unfortunately a social one too. Fear is a large part of leprosy.
Leprosy has many false connotations associated with it, including that it is a curse from God, a result of sin, and that it is also hereditary. Therefore the idea of segregation to prevent procreation was promoted. The media and even politicians have in the past used the horrors of neglected leprosy to paint it as something evil, degrading and even immoral.
For those living in their community and trying to earn a living or have a normal life, the stigma can cause them to retreat and stay away for fear of reprisal. Some cultures are accepting, but the fear of leprosy has caused many sufferers and their families to experience rejection from the very community they look to for support.
Leprosy Mission works to not only cure the physical effects of leprosy, but also to provide support and education to help them become integrated and accepted in their community.