[AIDS, developing countries and ethnopsychiatry][Article in French]

Author: Ehrhardt N//Defourny J//Bertrand J
Affiliation: l'Hopital de Jour universitaire La Cle, Departement de Medecine psychosomatique, Universite de Liege
Conference/Journal: Rev Med Liege
Date published: 1995
Other: Volume ID: 50 , Issue ID: 4 , Pages: 182-8 , Word Count: 263

This work briefly assesses the history of the AIDS epidemic in different geographic regions and examines factors that render developing countries particularly vulnerable. It reviews the three main techniques of traditional therapeutic systems and examines their implications for psychiatric treatment of AIDS patients from developing countries. Young age structures, low rates of condom usage, women's lack of education and of sexual bargaining power, and the deficiencies of health and educational facilities are among factors that increase risks of HIV in developing countries. Health education geared to specific audiences should encourage condom use and other preventive measures. Among factors to encourage condom use, group decision making appears to be of greatest potential influence on behavior in sub-Saharan Africa and among African immigrants to Europe. To encourage preventive measures and to understand reactions of non-Western populations to HIV, it is desirable to understand the deeper meanings of their cultures and of traditional therapies. It is difficult and misguided to pose a diagnosis according to the criteria of Western psychiatry. Western psychiatry has been proven incompetent in its attempts to treat members of traditional societies, whether immigrants or in their countries of origin. And attempts to integrate traditional healing into a western medical system have not been successful. Traditional systems accomplish therapeutic goals by three major techniques, possession, shamanism, and clairvoyance, or their numerous variants. It is recommended that group sessions be held with immigrants requiring treatment, in which the principal therapist is assisted by translators, who help create a space for the patient intermediate between the two cultures, where the therapies can coexist without conflict.