Medicine: Lifting the Stigma of Leprosy

A new vaccine offers hope against an ancient disease

"He is a leprous man, he is unclean," says Chapter 13 of Leviticus.

Throughout the ages, leprosy has been looked upon with contempt and horror. The Bible enjoins lepers to "dwell alone," wear torn clothing and cry out "Unclean, unclean." In the Middle Ages lepers were barred from public buildings, forbidden to speak with children and required to sound a bell or clapper. The very word leper came to mean outcast.

Yet the stigma of leprosy is based largely on misunderstanding. The use of the term...

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