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Published: 28 May 2013

Epilepsy stigma a major issue for young people

Professor Ley Sander, Epilepsy Society's medical director, has spoken out about the stigma of having epilepsy. He told delegates at a European conference on Epilepsy Research in Dublin  that more than half of 20,000 young people questioned in a major survey *, said they would not date a person with epilepsy because the stigma of epilepsy remained a major issue in the public mind.

Speaking at the European Forum on Epilepsy Research at the Dublin Convention Centre, Professor Sander also highlighted the fact that such stigma often causes as much suffering as, or more than, the physical manifestations, and affects how people respond to the disease burden.

Professor Sander said epilepsy was the most common serious neurological condition, affecting 60 million people worldwide. The disease has a high risk of premature mortality and could place a heavy burden to the individual, including stigmatisation, he said.

The conference was told that the personal experience of people with epilepsy worldwide was characterised by exclusion, rejection, blame and other manifestations.

It resulted in social exclusion including children being banned from school, relationship problems and civil and human rights violations.
*Austin et al 2002