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September 2019

Soc Sci Med. 1995 Feb; 40(4): 503-15.

The experience of an AIDS prevention program focused on South African traditional healers.

Green EC, Zokwe B, Dupree JD.

Department of Traditional Medicine, GEMT, Maputo, Mozambique.

A national HIV/STD prevention program focused on traditional healers was started in South Africa in late 1992. An initial group of 28 healers (the 'first generation') was trained in HIV/AIDS and STD prevention. These 28 in turn trained a total of 630 additional healers (the 'second generation') in formal, week-long workshops within seven months of the first workshop (this figure grew to 1510 healers by the end of the tenth month). This paper reports results of an assessment of the impact of training during the first seven months of the program. The second generation appeared to be as well trained as the first, if we can rely on measures such as reporting correctly how HIV is transmitted and how HIV transmission can be prevented. Healers also reported advising their patients to use condoms, and demonstrating methods of correct condom use. Healers were initially recruited through national, formal associations of traditional healers, of which there are several in South Africa. Yet several months into the program, healers were critical of donor groups working with and through such associations. Most preferred that membership in such associations not be a prerequisite for participation in donor group-supported collaborative programs. The present program accordingly began to explore the possibility of recruiting healers through existing, indigenous associations of diviner-mediums known as impandes.

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