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Teaching the Teachers: Introduction of an accessible HIV prevention module to South African traditional healers

Leseliey Rose Welch, MPH, Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, 4971 Pitch Pine Court #1A, Ypsilanti, MI 48197, 734-528-2852, welchl@umich.edu

In South Africa where HIV/AIDS is taking a most severe toll, many avenues of prevention and care are being explored. One such avenue that has tremendous potential is collaboration and cooperation with South African traditional healers. UNAIDS estimates that approximately 80% of Africans consult traditional healers regarding their health needs (2000). This puts traditional healers in a prime position to deliver and engage in culturally appropriate HIV prevention education. The purpose of this project was to train groups of traditional healers in three South African cities to effectively teach HIV prevention to their peers and their clients. While similar projects have been carried out, the unique feature of this project is the methodology it employed. This project involved the use of a primarily oral methodology to teach HIV prevention in a way that is easily accessible to people of all literacy and education levels. Over 150 traditional healers in Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town have been trained and empowered to train other traditional healers using this method. Participants’ reactions to the project and continued use of the method at programs end confirmed the need and utility of trainings that do not employ complex manuals and require extensive reading. This project serves to add to the growing body of evidence of the centrality of traditional healers to HIV prevention. It highlights the potential effectiveness of accessible pedagogical methods of HIV education at ensuring the capacity of traditional healers to teach HIV prevention.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to

Keywords: Health Activism, Poverty

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

From Prevention to Care: HIV/AIDS Issues in High Prevalence Countries

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA