n Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems - Cross cultural dilemmas in the management of HIV / AIDS : the role of African traditional healers : indigenous African healing practices

Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1683-0296



The article is based on the study which sought to investigate the role that African traditional healers can play in the care and management of HIV / AIDS. Ten traditional healers from the Vhavenda community in South Africa were interviewed to understand their perceptions and approaches to the management of HIV / AIDS. To triangulate, ten Western trained health care practitioners and eight HIV / AIDS patients were also interviewed to canvass their views on the role that traditional healers can play in the management of HIV / AIDS. The interviews were audio-taped, transcribed and translated into English. The protocols were analyzed using the grounded theory approach. It was found that traditional healers provide a client-centered and personalized health care management that is culturally appropriate and tailored to meet the needs and expectations of their patients. Some of the patients reported consulting traditional healers when presented with what they considered to be HIV / AIDS related symptoms. Western trained health care providers reported a willingness to collaborate with African traditional healers. However, the study also found that most traditional healers did not understand HIV / AIDS as they seemed to confuse this clinical condition with some sexually transmitted diseases. The cultural proximity of traditional healers may facilitate communication about the disease and related social issues.

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