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Since this first meeting with traditional healers in December 2019, the collaboration between them and POP INN uMgungundlovu has grown to bring more people to care.
Aurum POP INN engages traditional healers to bring key populations to care

Aurum POP INN engages traditional healers to bring key populations to care

Aurum’s POP INN project was founded to bring sexual health services to key populations who fear stigma and discrimination at general health facilities. They have continued to be inclusive by embracing traditional healers as clients and to help spread awareness about HIV treatment and prevention.

Thabani Duma, Intervention Facilitator at Aurum Pop Inn clinic in uMgungundlovu, KwaZulu-Natal, noticed some clients who tested positive for HIV, refused to be initiated on antiretroviral treatment (ART) saying they would rather consult with their traditional healers. “When we explored this, we found that there were a lot of traditional healers who were also men who have sex with men (MSM) or transgender (TG), so we decided to reach out to them,” said Duma.

Engagements

With Project Coordinator Subusiso Makhathini and they reached out to an organisation for traditional healers and through POP INN’s outreach teams, organised engagements on various platforms.

“We partnered with the Gay and Lesbian Network who provided sexual identity and diversity training. We tackled topics like treatment comprehension of ART (antiretroviral treatment) and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and addressed the myths and misconceptions about these treatments. We raised awareness on the benefits of adhering to ART and charted a way forward in working together for the health of our clients,” said Duma.

Ambassadors

Not only have some of these traditional healers become ambassadors for services offered at the POP INN clinic, but as MSM and TG themselves, they have become clients.

Makhathini said the collaboration has been a success because they are seeing more traditional healers coming to POP INN for services, referring clients and wanting to be part of empowerment groups. “They are also contributing to eradicate the phobia of HIV testing and treatment and promoting prevention within their consulting. We are now working on bringing in more traditional healers and training them on HIV prevention and treatment. At the end of the day, we all want what is best for our clients,” he said.