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NEW YORK, USA, July 3, 2001: About one to two percent percent of Americans have vitilego, a loss of pigment causing white patches to appear on the skin. While the condition is not contagious, painful, itchy or dangerous, the disfigurement it can be -- especially for dark-skinned people -- profoundly damaging socially, professionally and psychologically. In India, vitilego is referred to as "white leprosy," and women with it are often discriminated against in marriage. If they develop vitilego after marriage, it can be cause for divorce. Vitilego results from the loss of melanocytes. These are the skin cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. This report describes several new advances in treatment.