'When you are ill you always hope': an exploration of the role of traditional healers in HIV/AIDS care and prevention in Cambodia
This study aims to provide some insight into the work of traditional healers in Cambodia, focussing on HIV/AIDS/STIs and related conditions in the context of their wider role. The study was conducted over two months in Phnom Penh and Battambang. It provides an overview of who traditional healers are, the services they provide, how traditional healers and others perceive their role in HIV/AIDS prevention and care, and existing links and associations between traditional healers and others. The main findings of the study are as follows:
" Traditional healers are a very diverse group without a single identity.
" They were reported to treat almost all illnesses, with some healers specialising in treating people with HIV.
" AIDS, STIs and TB are treated with traditional medicine, with magic and ritual sometimes a component of this.
" Clients of the healers are perceived to be poor or of medium needs.
" Many people with HIV who are using traditional medicine reported substantial improvements in their health, though the side-effects and unknown toxicities are of serious concern of health workers.
" Many biomedical practitioners and health workers stated that they do not believe that traditional medicine is effective.