Panel Discussion: Traditional healing versus scientific medicine in the fight against TB and HIV

Abstract / Description: 

Speakers include: Professor Deborah Posel (HUMA), Professor Leslie Green (Anthropology), Dr Susan Levine (Anthropology), Jo Wreford (ASRU), Jonny Steinberg (HUMA), and Nathan Geffen (TAC)


At the core of South Africa's political controversies about HIV treatment were opposing views about scientific medicine. Health Minister Tshabalala-Msimang's refusal to roll-out ART may be understood as an attempt to challenge the authority of science and to resist African dependence on Western medical technologies. In this light, Tshabalala-Msimang's support for traditional remedies and nutritional interventions was a means of regaining medical control over the HIV pandemic through the application of so-called 'African solutions'.

Many South Africans consult a traditional healer before a medical doctor in the event of illness. Traditional healers therefore constitute a vital vanguard of care. But past debates about optimal treatments for HIV have polarised the treatment landscape.


How and why do conspiracy theories around HIV continue to hold popular sway?
What are the effects of syncretic beliefs about the causes of HIV (both a viral agent, and punishment for social transgression)?
What are the successes and failures of programmes to develop collaborate approaches to traditional and scientific medicines?
Should HIV education and advocacy programmes incorporate information about traditional healing?

Wed, 11 Aug 2010 - 13:00