Short study on the social impact of arsenicosis

Screening patientsWe previously reported on the stories of two women suffering from the social stigma caused by the symptoms of arsenic poisoning, or arsenicosis. Many people believe arsenicosis is contagious or that it is a curse. Parents are reluctant to let their children play with children suffering from the poisoning and patients can be shunned within their villages. It is hard, and sometimes impossible, for single women suffering from arsenicosis to marry. Married women may face the risk of divorce if they develop symptoms. Unmarried women are already more vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion. Arsenic makes this worse. In a recent field study, we explored the socio-economic condition of some of our arsenicosis patients, their vulnerability and the impact of arsenic in the society. We found that in a few cases, families believe that arsenicosis is contagious and are therefore taking precautions to separate the patient. Some other patients face problems when trying to arrange marriage for their sons or daughters. All patients hide their disease from neighbours and relatives to avoid exclusion from social and family occasions. For more information, please see attached field study report.

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