IRIN/PlusNews Examines Ritual in Guinea-Bissau Believed to Prevent Spread of HIV
February 1, 2008
IRIN/PlusNews recently examined a ritual, known as tarbessadu, performed by traditional healers in Guinea-Bissau that many people in the country believe can prevent a woman who has given birth from contracting HIV. According to IRIN/PlusNews, traditional healers use a pig, half a sack of rice, black corn and five liters of sugarcane brandy to perform tarbessadu. Some say if a pregnant woman does not go through the ritual, she will contract HIV and transmit it to her male partner.
In addition, there are only two health care facilities in the country that offer services to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, IRIN/PlusNews reports. Paulo Mendes -- president of the National Secretariat for the Fight Against AIDS, or SNLS -- said, "It's hard for us to plan prophylactic treatment against mother-to-child transmission in a regular manner, due to the hardships we face in terms of human, financial and material resources." It also is difficult to closely monitor women and infants for up to 18 months after delivery, according to IRIN/PlusNews. Ceu e Terra was able to monitor about 800 infants between 2002 and 2006 in Guinea-Bissau, which was less than 50% of the infants born to HIV-positive women during that time period. "Many mothers either become desperate, turn to alternative medicine or simply fail to comprehend the gravity of the situation," Oscar Basisio, president of Ceu e Terra, said.
Additional data from SNLS found that 75% of the 4,124 pregnant women who received information on HIV testing during prenatal visits in the first half of last year agreed to be tested for the virus. The tests results showed that 217 of the women were HIV-positive and that 42% of their partners agreed to be tested (IRIN/PlusNews, 1/28).
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.