Original Research

Could Vhavenda initiation schools be a panacea for HIV and AIDS management in the Vhembe district of South Africa?

Avhatakali A. Ndou-Mammbona, Azwihangwisi H. Mavhandu-Mudzusi
Curationis | Vol 45, No 1 | a2356 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v45i1.2356 | © 2022 Avhatakali A. Ndou-Mammbona, Azwihangwisi H. Mavhandu-Mudzusi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 June 2022 | Published: 30 November 2022

About the author(s)

Avhatakali A. Ndou-Mammbona, Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Azwihangwisi H. Mavhandu-Mudzusi, Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Several human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) prevention strategies have been implemented to counteract the impact of the disease, including the use of condoms, social marketing, testing, voluntary counselling and education programmes. One of the platforms which has not been fully explored is that of traditional initiation schools.

Objectives: This study aimed to explore and discuss Vhavenda traditional initiation schools, which can be used as panacea for HIV and AIDS management in the Vhembe district of South Africa.

Method: This ethnographic study was conducted in the Vhembe district of South Africa, among nine purposively sampled key informants drawn from a cohort of Vhavenda traditional healers and leaders. Data were collected using semistructured face-to-face interviews and analysed using ethnographic content analysis.

Results: The results indicate that Vhavenda traditional initiation schools positively affect the management of HIV and AIDS. Initiation schools are centres for cultural education and the formation of a cultural identity. During the initiation process, initiates are taught social norms, customs and values which will serve them well in adulthood. They are also taught matters of sexuality, courtship, marriage and respect for others.

Conclusion: The positive attributes of Vhavenda initiation schools should be accommodated and implemented in curricula from the primary school level up to the tertiary level to reduce and curb the spread of HIV infection.

Contribution: Improved expertise at the initiation schools will aid the Department of Health and Education and Training to develop and implement suitable cultural contextualised HIV and AIDS prevention strategies.


Keywords

Ethnography; HIV infections; traditional healers; traditional initiation schools; Vhavenda

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