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International News

Washington Post Profiles Impact of African "Cleansing" Rituals on HIV Spread

August 19, 2003

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

The Washington Post yesterday profiled the impact of an African traditional ritual known as "cleansing" -- in which designated men in villages are paid to have sex with widowed women in order to "cleanse" them of evil spirits -- on the spread of HIV in Africa. According to the Post, under the ritual, married women who are widowed or unmarried women who lose a child or parent must have sex with one of "hundreds of thousands" of paid, designated "cleansers" before they are allowed to attend funerals or become the wife of a deceased husband's brother. Although African women have never liked the practice, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has made it "more than just a painful ritual" for women, according to the Post. Areas that practice the custom have the highest rates of the disease, and the debate over the practice has become a "striking example of how HIV/AIDS is forcing Africans to question and change traditions as the disease ravages the continent," according to the Post. According to African aid workers, cleansers can still be found in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, the Congo, Angola, Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Nigeria (Wax, Washington Post, 8/18).

Back to other news for August 19, 2003


Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2003 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
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