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Acta Médica Costarricense

On-line version ISSN 0001-6002Print version ISSN 0001-6012


RIVERA-CHAVARRIA, Ana; SANCHEZ-HERNANDEZ, Germana  and  ESPINOZA-AGUIRRE, Azálea. Impact of Hansen’s disease on relatives of patients in Costa Rica. Acta méd. costarric [online]. 2021, vol.63, n.1, pp.5-13. ISSN 0001-6002.


Leprosy transmission within family groups is a well-established fact. Although transmissibility is low, household contacts are high-risk population. The aim of the study was to identify common sociodemographic, cultural and clinical characteristics in family groups with history of Hansen’s disease as an input to improve treatment.


A qualitative study was carried out, using in-depth semi-structured interview technique based on leprosy diagnosis and treatment in sociodemographic, social and cultural context. A total of 25 adults between 23 and 88 years of age included both sexes attended by Costa Rican public health care system were selected. Genograms were used to identify family history of disease.


The study shows that 12 participants came from 3 family groups; two of them with third affected generation. The participants were diagnosed in economically active periods of life, work in manual occupations, with low level of education and Christians. At the time of the interview, participants knew the family history. The clinical presentation form was lepromatouse leprosy. A conjugal leprosy and a 15-year-old participant at diagnosis were identified.


The study identified common sociodemographic, cultural and clinical characteristics of family groups that demonstrate the need to strengthen contact surveillance efforts in families with new cases.

Keywords : Leprosy; prevention; family relations; Costa Rica..

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