Acceptability of Immunoprophylaxis and/or Chemoprophylaxis for Household Contacts of Patients with Hansen’s Disease: A Prospective, Single-Center, Mixed Methods Study
Objectives. Leprosy is an infectious disease affecting the skin and nerves caused by Mycobacterium leprae. Closer physical distance was found to increase risk transmission. Thus, targeted provision of prophylactic medications to household contacts of patients with leprosy could possibly aid in decreasing its incidence in a cost-effective manner. This study aimed to determine the attitudes towards disclosure of the diagnosis of leprosy and acceptance of immuno- and chemoprophylaxis for household contacts of patients undergoing treatment in a dermatology outpatient clinic of a tertiary hospital in the Philippines.
Methods. We conducted a prospective, single-center, cross-sectional and mixed methods study at a dermatology clinic of a tertiary hospital. All diagnosed leprosy patients, household contacts of leprosy patients, and individuals with no leprosy and no known contact with a leprosy case were invited. Eligible participants who gave consent were included in the cross-sectional survey, followed by in-depth interviews of selected participants. STATA 12 was used to analyze the data. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize information. Chi-square was computed to obtain a measure of association of important variables. The field notes and the verbatim transcriptions of the interviews and narratives were filed using an analytic memo system.
Results. Fifty-five participants (22 Hansen’s disease patients, 13 household contacts, and 20 individuals unaffected by and unexposed to leprosy) were enrolled. Mean age of respondents was 38 years, 60% were female, and 85% were living in an urban setting. Majority of the patients with leprosy were borderline lepromatous (45%) to lepromatous type (27%) with mean treatment duration of 13 months. Overall, the respondents were willing to disclose the diagnosis of leprosy to their household members to facilitate provision of prophylaxis. They were also generally willing to receive prophylaxis despite potential side effects, expense, incomplete protection, and the need for yearly assessment for the development of leprosy. All respondents felt hopeful about the availability of medications that can prevent the development of leprosy and its complications, with some feeling anxious and only a few being embarrassed about receiving them.
Conclusions. Prophylactic medications were found to be generally acceptable despite some concerns. There is also a willingness to disclose the diagnosis of leprosy to facilitate the targeted provision of prophylaxis to household contacts.