The Politics of Vodou: Aids, Access to Health Care and the Use of Culture in Haiti

During the past few years, the AIDS campaign in Haiti has been targeting Vodou officiants and organizations. These awareness and training programmes inform officiants about the transmission and prevention of AIDS, tests for HIV and anti-retroviral drugs, or even try to encourage them to become involved in a medical referral system. These culturalist interventions are grounded in an essentialist concept of culture that can have harmful effects on the targeted groups. The concept of culture underlying such interventions is deconstructed along with the categories of traditional medicine and the ‘tradipractitioner’. An approach to public health is advocated that would contextualize medical pluralism in Haiti.

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