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Journal Article


Cruz-Inigo AE, Ladizinski B, Sethi A. Dermatol. Clin. 2011; 29(1): 79-87.


Scripps Mercy Hospital, 4280 Arguello Street, San Diego, CA 92103, USA.


(Copyright © 2011, Elsevier Publishing)






Oculocutaneous albinism is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by a lack of pigment in the hair, skin, and eyes. Albinism is caused by defective or absent tyrosinase, an enzyme necessary for melanogenesis. Although rare in the western world, albinism is quite common in sub-Saharan Africa, likely as a result of consanguinity. Albinism has long been associated with stigma and superstitions, such as the belief that a white man impregnated the mother or that the child is the ghost of a European colonist. Recently, a notion has emerged that albino body parts are good-luck charms or possess magical powers. These body parts may be sold for as much as $75,000 on the black market. As a result there have been over 100 albino murders in Tanzania, Burundi, and other parts of Africa in the past decade, which is now beginning to garner international attention and thus prompting novel legislation. To ameliorate the plight of individuals with albinism in Africa, a coordinated effort must be organized, involving medical professionals (dermatologists, ophthalmologists, oncologists), public health advocates and educators, social workers, human rights and antidiscrimination activists, law-enforcement agencies, and governmental support groups. The main issues that should be addressed include skin cancer prevention education, stigma and discrimination denouncement, and swift prosecution of albino hunters and their sponsors.

Language: en


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