African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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Ritual Impurities: Perspectives of Women Living with HIV and AIDS

ML Shirindi, MDM Makofane


This paper seeks to explore the women’s perspectives on HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Thus, a qualitative exploratory-descriptive study was conducted among women living with HIV (WLWHIV) and AIDS in Mankweng and the surrounding villages of Limpopo Province in South Africa. A purposive sampling technique was employed to recruit 54 suitable participants for six (6) focus group discussions consisting of nine members each. In addition, one-on-one interviews were conducted with two (2) academics in African studies and two (2) traditional healers. The NVivo programme was utilised to manage the qualitative data. The PEN-3 model was useful in understanding the subjective accounts of the participants which suggest a similarity between makgoma (ritual impurities) and HIV and AIDS. However, these claims were refuted by academics and traditional healers on the basis that makgoma is curable if treated earlier while HIV and AIDS is not. The WLWHIV and AIDS may have advertently or inadvertently associated makgoma with HIV and AIDS to avoid stigmatization and discrimination. This is attributed to the fact that makgoma is widely known and accepted among traditionalists. However, the existing misconceptions call for cultural sensitivity on the part of the helping professionals to take into account health care users’ cultural beliefs which may hamper their understanding of HIV and AIDS.

Keywords: HIV, Makgoma (ritual impurities), Traditional Beliefs, Cultural Sensitivity, Social Work

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