Mpumalanga traditional healers, Wits University to conduct HIV testing

Mpumalanga traditional healers, Wits University to conduct HIV testing

A partnership between traditional healers and the University of Wits in Agincourt village near Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga has come to fruition.

Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit trained fifteen traditional healers to be able to conduct HIV tests and counselling to their patients.

The traditional healers have successfully tested almost 500 people and 20 of the people tested positive.

One of the trained traditional healers, Gogo Shadrack Mashabane, says they are now empowered to assist their patients without limitations.

“Last time when the client came to my place, I didn’t know that this person is positive or not, and it was a problem because if someone tells someone that first you have to go to the clinic, he or she thinks that maybe don’t want to help them. Now we are happy because after doing what you are doing, we talk to them about HIV testing. If he or she likes to test, then we test them. If he is positive or she is positive, then we refer them to the clinic but it’s not forced.”

Meanwhile, Wits Senior Researcher, Dr Ryan Wagner, says they want traditional healers to take the lead in the fight against HIV and Aids in their communities.

“I think there’s a lot of mistrust from both sides and so we attempted to do with this wok, and what we were attempting to do now is to build a relationship that’s built on respect and trust. To your point as well, it’s not just about having healers and power to refer people to the clinic, it also empowering the nurses at the clinic to be able to refer people back to the healers.”

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