This study explores the use of African traditional healers by people using Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in South Africa. It focuses on the insights and opinions of two different populations: HIV positive patients attending ARV services and lay healthcare workers (patient advocates and ARV counsellors) providing counselling services parallel to ARV treatment.
A semi-structured questionnaire was used to explore the attitudes of patients to African traditional healers and their practices. This was complemented by in depth interviews with patients who reported use of traditional healing systems in the past year. The responses show that the majority of respondents had never accessed a traditional healing service. Only two patients were found to be actively crossing between ARV treatment facilities and traditional healing services at the time of their interview.
The study also included two focus group discussions with lay health workers (i.e. ARV counsellors and patient advocates) at two ARV sites. On the whole it showed that lay health workers support an ARV roll out process that effectively underplays the role of traditional healers and therefore actively discourages their patients from using traditional healing services while taking ARV treatment.
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