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Traditional Healers as Adherence Partners for Persons Living with HIV in Rural Mozambique

Carolyn Audet, Ph.D., M.A.

Carolyn Audet, Ph.D., M.A., assistant professor at Vanderbilt, received a career development award to assess feasibility of engaging traditional healers as HIV treatment partners in Mozambique.

HIV-positive people living in rural Mozambique often consult a traditional healer prior to seeking help from a clinic, thereby, delaying diagnosis and treatment. Traditional healers are a preferred and trusted source within the community. Deeply rooted in cultural customs, they are ideally positioned to improve health outcomes of this population by linking them to clinical care and treatment. Healers can maintain confidentiality, explain the disease in local cultural context and support lifelong antiretroviral therapies.

As allopathic providers begin to “task shift” and work as community health agents, formal partnerships with the health system could improve adherence among patients with HIV. Dr. Audet’s established and effective referral methods and training programs between healers and the Ministry of Health provide the foundation of an effective partnership. This grant focuses on developing a sustainable, practical, and effective relationship between traditional healers and the health care system.

Audet’s research is supported by a Career Development Award (1K01MH107255-01) from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).