Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

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The role of spiritual faith healers in managing various conditions of ill-health has been studied and debated. The aim of this study was to explore spiritual faith healers’ understanding and conceptualisation of HIV/AIDS stigma and the role they play in reducing or reinforcing HIV/AIDS stigma in their communities. A qualitative approach, and in particular, the grounded theory methodology was used. The application of this methodology included personal interviews with eight practising spiritual faith healers in Limpopo Province (South Africa), while additional information was gleaned from the literature review. The researcher focused on the participants’ conceptualisation of HIV stigma, from the context of the African world view in order to gain insight into the roles of these spiritual faith healers. The findings indicated that spiritual faith healers tended to show a less positive attitude towards people living with Aids. However, the findings suggest that spiritual faith healers perceive themselves to be having a definite role to play in reducing HIV/ AIDS stigma in their communities. These findings are discussed in the context of South African national policies relating to HIV and AIDS. The study is concluded by suggesting that HIV testing must be compulsory for every person who consults in a hospital. Such a policy move could contribute positively in terms of health promotion.

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