|Fact sheet No 102: Lymphatic Filariasis - Rev. September 2000 (WHO, 2000, 3 p.)|
Because of its prevalence often in remote rural areas, on the one hand, and in disfavoured periurban and urban areas, on the other, lymphatic filariasis is primarily a disease of the poor. In recent years, lymphatic filariasis has steadily increased because of the expansion of slum areas and poverty, especially in Africa and the Indian sub-continent. As many filariasis patients are physically incapacitated, it is also a disease that prevents patients from having a normal working life. The fight to eliminate lymphatic filariasis is also a fight against poverty.
Lymphatic filariasis exerts a heavy social burden that is especially severe because of the specific attributes of the disease, particularly since chronic complications are often hidden and are considered shameful. For men, genital damage is a severe handicap leading to physical limitations and social stigmatization. For women, shame and taboos are also associated with the disease. When affected by lymphoedema, they are considered undesirable and when their lower limbs and genital parts are enlarged they are severely stigmatized; marriage, in many situations an essential source of security, is often impossible.
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