Attitudes, beliefs and practices of the Vhavenda in sexually transmitted diseases
AbstractSexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are not foreign to African cultures. Like other nationalities, Africans also had their own diagnosis, treatment and prevention methods for these types of diseases. In addition, there are norms for sexual behaviour that are unique to each culture and that are different for women and men. Such gendered patterns of sexual behaviours may contribute to the understanding of many aspects of people\'s ways of living, including their perception of diseases such as those transmitted sexually. This article is based on a qualitative descriptive study conducted to explore the participants\' attitudes, beliefs and practices on promotive, preventive and curative measures of sexually transmitted diseases. Data were collected by means of in-depth interviews held with key informants in the communities. Key informants identified one another, which facilitated snowball. In the process, traditional healers specialising in the treatment of STDs were also identified as key informants. The findings indicated that good social behaviour such as listening to the elders and fulfilling the moral expectations of a society based on cultural values such as sexual education, initiation schools, premarital counselling, polygamy and widow inheritance are believed to be the main strategies for combating sexually transmitted diseases. It was recommended that cultural practices and beliefs that have proved to be reliable and effective be integrated into health education and that awareness be created regarding the dangers of cultural practices that are detrimental to women\'s health, especially those that put them at risk of HIV/AIDS. It was further recommended that traditional leaders, healers, civic organisations and student representative councils be engaged to provide health education on issues relating to sexually transmitted diseases as well as to recognise and address traditional practices that perpetuate women\'s vulnerability.
Keywords: sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, Indigenous knowledge, Vhavenda, cultural beliefs, traditional healers
Indilinga: African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IAJIKS) Vol. 4(1) 2005: 323-339