Original Research

“Why me and not my neighbour?” HIV/AIDS care and counselling in a traditional African context.

AC van Dyk
Curationis | Vol 24, No 3 | a840 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v24i3.840 | © 2001 AC van Dyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 September 2001 | Published: 28 September 2001

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AC van Dyk, Department of psychology, UNISA, South Africa

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HIV/AIDS in Africa places a tremendous burden on the nursing profession. Hospitals are inundated with very sick and dying AIDS patients and nurses often find that their role as healers has shifted to a great extent to that of caregivers, counsellors and educators. AIDS also calls for nurses to go beyond the strict Western-based bio-medical model to be able to help and understand patients who come from a traditional African background. This article discusses relevant aspects of the traditional African worldview by explaining what health, sickness and sexuality mean in traditional Africa. Traditional African perceptions of the causes of illness (God, ancestors, witches, pollution and germs), perceptions of sexuality, the importance of having children, cultural beliefs inhibiting the usage of condoms, the importance of community life, as well as the controversial issue of confidentiality in Africa are discussed. The implications for AIDS care and counselling in Africa are explored and suggestions on how to use traditional beliefs and customs to the advantage of AIDS education, are offered.


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