Traditional healers and AIDS prevention
A qualitative case study of the views and experiences of an isangomia was undertaken to explore potential preventive health roles that traditional healers could play with regard to the AIDS epidemic. The isangoma's knowledge of the transmission mechanisms, risk groups and prevention strategies for AIDS was accurate. Her questionable beliefs included a Nazi conspiracy as the source of AIDS, a string ritual to prevent promiscuity and a conviction that she could treat AIDS. Notwithstanding the latter beliefs, her generally factual knowledge of AIDS indicated that she could be an important source of AIDS information in the community; she was, in fact, already providing some AIDS counselling. Considering their large clientele, established preventive health ethic, extensive distribution in rural areas and potential ability to influence the contextual factors that affect risk-reducing behaviours (e.g. condom. use), it is recommended that traditional healers be incorporated into AIDS prevention programmes where they can play a role in community-based AIDS education and condom promotion.
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