Traditional healers, Western medicine and HIV/Aids
About 8 months ago I attended a conference on HIV/Aids (see Notes from underground: HIV, Aids etc). It was organised by the South African HIV Clinicians Society for religious leaders, and there were people from various religious backgrounds there — Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, neopagan, paleopagan (the last also represented by a bloke who was trained in both traditional and Western medicine).
One of the problems mentioned by the speakers at the conference was that people with HIV/Aids sometimes consult religious healers who tell them that they have been cured. They do feel better, so they stop taking antiretroviral drugs, and then they begin to feel worse again. The speakers emphasised the point that doing this diminishes the effectiveness of antiretroviral drugs, not only for that patient, but for others as well, as the HI virus builds up resistance to the drugs.
But now other things amanzi: madness has posted on another aspect of the relationship between HIV and religious healers that was not mentioned at the conference — the belief, propagated by some sangomas (witchdoctors) that sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure Aids, and notes that there seems to be a conspiracy of silence about this belief.