The Cultural and Community-Level Acceptance of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Among Traditional Healers in Eastern Cape, South Africa
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The HIV/AIDS epidemic has profoundly impacted South Africa’s healthcare system, greatly hampering its ability to scale-up the provision of antiretroviral therapy (ART). While one way to provide comprehensive care and prevention in sub-Saharan African countries has been through collaboration with traditional healers, long-term support specifically for ART has been low within this population. An exploratory, qualitative research project was conducted among 25 self-identified traditional healers between June and August of 2006 in the Lukhanji District of South Africa. By obtaining the opinions of traditional healers currently interested in biomedical approaches to HIV/AIDS care and prevention, this formative investigation identified a range of motivational factors that were believed to promote a deeper acceptance of and support for ART. These factors included cultural consistencies between traditional and biomedical medicine, education, as well as legal and financial incentives to collaborate. Through an incorporation of these factors into future HIV/AIDS treatment programs, South Africa and other sub-Saharan countries may dramatically strengthen their ability to provide ART in resource-poor settings.
KeywordsHIV/AIDS Highly active antiretroviral therapy African traditional medicine ART scale-up
This study was supported by a fellowship grant from the Rollins School of Public Health to the first author. The authors would like to thank and acknowledge the staff at Africare, South Africa. We are especially grateful to Joan Littlefield and Joyce Mandindi for their support and contribution to this study. Additional support was provided by the Emory Center for AIDS Research (P30 AI050409) and the Emory HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Unit (U01 AI069418).
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