The cultural and community-level acceptance of antiretroviral therapy (ART) among traditional healers in Eastern Cape, South Africa

J Community Health. 2009 Feb;34(1):16-22. doi: 10.1007/s10900-008-9121-9.


The HIV/AIDS epidemic has profoundly impacted South Africa's healthcare system, greatly hampering its ability to scale-up the provision of antiretroviral therapy (ART). While one way to provide comprehensive care and prevention in sub-Saharan African countries has been through collaboration with traditional healers, long-term support specifically for ART has been low within this population. An exploratory, qualitative research project was conducted among 25 self-identified traditional healers between June and August of 2006 in the Lukhanji District of South Africa. By obtaining the opinions of traditional healers currently interested in biomedical approaches to HIV/AIDS care and prevention, this formative investigation identified a range of motivational factors that were believed to promote a deeper acceptance of and support for ART. These factors included cultural consistencies between traditional and biomedical medicine, education, as well as legal and financial incentives to collaborate. Through an incorporation of these factors into future HIV/AIDS treatment programs, South Africa and other sub-Saharan countries may dramatically strengthen their ability to provide ART in resource-poor settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / etiology
  • Adult
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active / statistics & numerical data*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Community Medicine
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Culture
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / etiology
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Male
  • Medicine, African Traditional*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Professional Competence*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Rural Health
  • South Africa
  • Witchcraft / psychology
  • Young Adult