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    ‘Self-stigma’ of people with cutaneous leishmaniasis the unrecognized one: what do we think; what do we know; what can we prove?

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    Abstract Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) refers to a group of parasitic infections caused by the protozoan parasite Leishmania spp. Lack of knowledge and awareness regarding this disease creates a burden for patients with CL to deal with self-stigma. The aim of this ethnographic study is to provide an analysis of self-stigma experienced by patients with CL through an in-depth understanding of the self-stigma experienced by patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis. A qualitative data analysis approach was used for this study. Semi-structured interviews and participant observation were conducted with 33 individuals with CL, and data were analyzed using a thematic analysis method. Interviews revealed that individuals with CL experience severe self-stigma. The participants spoke of their struggle to live with physical appearances that differed from societal norms. Furthermore, they also highlighted that people with CL are often viewed as unclean and contagious, which further adds to their self-stigma. Fear of social exclusion often forced individuals with CL to isolate themselves, leading to a detrimental impact on their mental health and quality of life. This study provides valuable insights into the experiences of patients with CL who are subjected to self-stigma. The findings suggest that the lack of knowledge and the considerable misconceptions surrounding CL create barriers for patients to deal with the condition and the self-stigma attached to it. To address this issue, there is a need for dedicated public health campaigns and health education that increase awareness about CL and provide appropriate support and care for those affected