Traditional Practices in Rural Africa Contributing to Spread of HIV, Researchers Say
Researchers are finding that a "host of traditional ceremonies and practices" in rural parts of Africa are creating routes of HIV transmission that are unique to the continent, the International Herald Tribune reports. Some practices -- such as birthing ceremonies, scarification for ethnic identification, cutting for ritual healing, communal breast-feeding, injection of herbal medicines and group circumcisions -- might lead to a "wildfire spread" of HIV, according to the Tribune. Researchers in Africa are beginning to study how these practices impact HIV transmission and are finding that "strategies for preventing the disease's spread must be adapted to local realities," the Tribune reports. According to Ed Mills, an epidemiologist at McMaster University in Canada, there is "no doubt that traditional practices are spreading HIV," but the issue has been ignored "because people think it's culturally insensitive to talk about" it. In addition, it is difficult to secure funding for HIV awareness campaigns aimed at people who engage in these practices, according to Etete Peters of the University of Calabar in Nigeria (Rosenthal, International Herald Tribune, 11/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.