Traditional Healers and the “Fast-Track” HIV Response: Is Success Possible without Them?

August 2016 - Structural Prevention

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Leclerc-Madlala, S., Green, E., and Hallin, M. African Journal of AIDS Research (2016), 15:2, 185–193, doi: 10.2989/16085906.2016.1204329.

This article argued that traditional healers are highly regarded in their communities, and said that the traditional health sector is a major resource that has yet to be sufficiently mobilized against HIV. In December 2015 the authors searched electronic databases and grey literature to identify the ways in which traditional healers have collaborated with the biomedical sector to address HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. The search revealed a wide variety of roles. Traditional healers have functioned as condom promoters; advocated for testing and treatment, and against stigma toward people living with HIV (PLHIV); helped PLHIV to obtain and stay on treatment; and cared for AIDS orphans in their homes. The authors included brief descriptions of five successful models of collaboration from different sub-Saharan countries, including Traditional and Modern Health Practitioners Together Against AIDS (Uganda), Rural Health Initiative (Lesotho), and Integration of TB Education and Care for HIV/AIDS (South Africa). They concluded that working in collaboration with the traditional healers would mobilize a significant resource that is already functioning in communities.

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