The Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers' Association on Friday at a meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, launched a register of practitioners who treat HIV/AIDS, The Herald/AllAfrica.com reports.

According to Tapera Dzviti, ZINATHA's secretary for information and policy, the group has reached an agreement with physicians to refer people living with HIV/AIDS to traditional healers. Under the agreement, traditional healers who have registered with ZINATHA will treat three people living with HIV/AIDS who are not taking antiretroviral drugs for a set amount of time while physicians administer tests to determine whether the patients' CD4+ T cell counts are improving. The group this week will begin inviting HIV-positive people to participate in the trial, Dzviti said (The Herald/AllAfrica.com, 1/14). Dzviti added that if positive treatment outcomes are observed, the trial "could help dispel myths associated with traditional medicines."

The group also called on the government to support its research. Dzviti said the group requires additional resources to refine traditional treatments. Zimbabwe "has a lot of herbs that can be used to treat various ailments that are associated" with HIV/AIDS, Dzviti said. He added that the group is calling on members to "come forward with herbs and medicines that can help cure manifestations of the disease so that research can be done" (The Herald/AllAfrica.com, 1/15). The government has said it is committed to incorporating traditional remedies into the country's health care delivery system.

The group at the meeting also discussed ways to address traditional healers who claim to cure HIV/AIDS and take money from people. The government has established a Traditional Medical Practitioners Council to regulate and develop guidelines for the practice, and Dzviti said ZINATHA wants "to settle the issue" of healers taking money from HIV-positive people "once and for all" (The Herald/AllAfrica.com, 1/14).

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