The Straits Times
Published on Nov 26, 2012

Psoriasis patients look to Hong Kong govt for help - and hope


HONG KONG (REUTERS) - When Mr Gary Lai first came down with the skin disease psoriasis, he got so tired of the stigma he faced in the outside world that he would lock himself away in his apartment whenever he didn't have to be at work.

"When you have to apply ointment all over your body, it is impractical. It also has a smell and when you go to work, your colleagues will start asking questions," said Mr Lai, who was 24 when he was diagnosed.

Now Mr Lai, 41, and other Hong Kong residents suffering from psoriasis - a lifelong autoimmune disease that covers the skin in red, scaly plaques - have joined hands to press the government to help subsidise their high treatment costs.

Affecting up to two per cent of the population in Asia, or 125 million people worldwide, this disfiguring disease can take a higher physical and mental toll on patients than cancer and heart disease, past surveys have found.