AIDS and traditional healers

Another area of concern is, that most of the Zulu in our area will trust rather in their traditional healers than in modern medicine. This would not be a problem, if they would just be given herbal substances, which would at least make them feel better subjectively. But if the medicine-man makes multiple incisions with a razor blade in the skin of an HIV positive person, to rub "medicine" into the wounds (which is a very widely spread "treatment") and uses the same razor blade in the same way for the next patient, the "cure" of the one becomes the lethal side-effect for the next.

A further complication is that about half the AIDS patients have Tuberculosis of the lungs, but many refuse to take the appropriate medication, for lack of understanding, that this is indispensable to inactivate TB.

Other people’s care is jeopardised by the traditional belief that inducing vomiting would "clean the system" and thus any oral medicine given by professionals is rendered useless by this practice.

Yet another difficulty in our care giving is the attitude of many people, who fear death and the inability to witness and cope with suffering and therefore ostracize their dying relative.

Far worse is the widespread rumour, an HIV positive patient could rid himself from the deadly virus through having intercourse with a young virgin. Countless rapes of girls from as young as 3 years upwards are the sad consequence. Words cannot describe the horror for these children: The bodily mutilation, the psychological trauma and finally the HIV-infection.

There is a formidable amount of education and care to be given, as fears cannot be treated with threats or punishment, but information and reassurance.

This page is part of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard - Newsletter No. 15

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 12:50:25