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Int J STD AIDS. 2006 Jun;17(6):360-3.

The challenges of involving traditional healers in HIV/AIDS care.

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Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, and Department of Medicine, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Nigeria.


In sub-Saharan Africa, traditional healers play a major role in providing for the needs of people, particularly in rural areas where western health care is unavailable. Despite a paucity of reliable figures to determine the prevalence of traditional medicine usage, it is estimated that some 70% of sub-Saharan Africans access traditional healers. There is now mounting evidence of the importance of involving traditional healers in the management of the HIV/AIDS epidemic--both for their potential benefits, although poorly researched and understood, and to reduce the impact that some traditional healing interventions may play on the spread of HIV/AIDS and unsafe treatment of infected patients. While there are few collaborative projects between traditional healers and biomedical health providers, there is an enthusiasm on the part of traditional healers to collaborate and learn from their western-trained counterparts. Collaboration is essential, given the changing epidemic of HIV and the dynamic relationship between the two health sectors.

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