Stopping Stigma: Behavioral Conditioning Changes Attitudes toward Disease, Disability, Stigma, Disgust, and Fear Employing Leprosy and HIV/AIDS as Case Studies

Heather's thesis entitled Learning from Leprosy: Modern Stigmatizing of Diseases Compared to more Positive Attitudes towards Leprosy in Early Christianity in the Eastern Roman Empire and Medieval Europe examines a positive socio-medical shift in attitudes in the fourth century C.E. in the eastern Roman empire towards leprosy in Christianity indicated by the sermons of Church Fathers: Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Basil the Great and the development of leprosaria. Much of current scholarship focuses on medieval attitudes, while this thesis argues that positive shifts in attitude toward leprosy were present centuries earlier in the east. Moreover, it looks at modern stigmatized diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, syphilis, and herpes to determine if similar socio-medical shifts that brought about positive change regarding attitudes towards leprosy in the past could improve attitudes towards people suffering from stigmatizing diseases in modern societies.

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