Indigenous knowledge of HIV/AIDS among high school students in Namibia

Case Studies & Research
7 p.
Periodical title
Journal of Ethnobiology and Medicine

The study explored the indigenous names for HIV/AIDS and its symptoms. Qualitative data was gathered through focus groups with students from 18 secondary schools across six educational districts. People living with HIV/AIDS were called names meaning prostitute: ihule, butuku bwa sihule, and shikumbu. Names such askibutu bwa masapo (bone disease),katjumba (a young child), kakithi (disease), and shinangele (very thin person) described AIDS. Derogatory names like mbwa (dog), esingahogo (pretender), ekifi (disease), and shinyakwi noyana (useless person) were also used. Other terms connoted death (zeguru, heaven; omudimba, corpse), fear (simbandembande, fish eagle; katanga kamufifi, (hot ball), and slang words such as 4 x 4, oondanda ne (four letters), desert soul, and mapilelo (an AIDS service organization). Typical (body wasting) and non-typical (big head, red eyes) symptoms of HIV also had associated terms. Indigenous knowledge can be a starting point for programs aiming to prevent HIV and AIDS and decrease stigma among adolescents. It enables students to interpret phenomena through the lens of their local and cultural knowledge.

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