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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Teenagers lack epilepsy awareness

30 October, 2001

Nearly half of American teenagers have never heard of epilepsy or have never read anything about it, according to research published.

Only 4 per cent of the 19,000 teenagers surveyed thought epilepsy was contagious, but another 22 per cent were not sure whether it was contagious or not, and 23 per cent did not know enough about the condition to know one way or another.

Nearly half of the young people surveyed said they would not tell their friends if they had the condition, but nearly 70 per cent said they would want a friend to tell them if he or she had epilepsy.

Eric Hargis, president of the Epilepsy Foundation, said that the survey results showed "teens that lacked information about epilepsy engaged in behaviours that were stigma-producing."

The stigma of epilepsy was also apparent in responses that indicated that over 40 per cent of teenagers believed that having epilepsy might make them unpopular and 37 per cent thought it would increase the likelihood of them getting picked on.

11 per cent of those questioned said that would not date someone with epilepsy, while 44 per cent said they were unsure whether or not they would date someone with epilepsy.