Indigenous knowledge of HIV/AIDS among High School students in Namibia
1 Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Namibia, P/B 13301, Windhoek, Namibia
2 Department of Science, Mathematics and Sports Education, Faculty of Education, University of Namibia, P/B 13301, Windhoek, Namibia
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2011, 7:17 doi:10.1186/1746-4269-7-17Published: 9 June 2011
The use of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) can help students to form schemas for interpreting local phenomena through the prism of what they already know. The formation of schemas related to HIV/AIDS risk perception and prevention is important for individuals to form local meanings of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The objective of this study was to explore the indigenous names and symptoms of HIV/AIDS among High School students in Namibia
Focus group discussions were used to collect qualitative data on indigenous names and symptoms of HIV/AIDS from students in 18 secondary schools located in six education regions. Data were grouped into themes.
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), andshinangele (very thin person) were used to describe 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 subtle meaning using slang words such as 4 × 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 were also revealed.
The study determined students' IK of the names and symptoms of HIV/AIDS. Programmes to prevent/manage adolescent HIV infection and stigma may be strengthened if they take students' indigenous understandings of the disease on board.