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Table 1 Indigenous names associated with HIV/AIDS and their putative English translations in different regions

From: Indigenous knowledge of HIV/AIDS among High School students in Namibia


Local names for HIV/AIDS (English translation)


Prostitutes: Butuku bwa sihule (disease for prostitutes); mbushahi, ndarabangwa, buhure (promiscuous)

AIDS syndrome: Ci lwala AIDS (suffering from AIDS); Kibutu bwa masapo (bone disease); disease without cure

Derogatory names: Mbwa (dog); icho (there he/she goes)

Death: Dead girl; Mr. Killer

Fear-factor:Simbandembande (eagle); killer disease; mamuingelele (disease that takes everything or everyone); mashinya bomu (destroys without mercy)

Slang: English; George; kalikaava (she hit herself or he hit himself); mapilelo (place where people are saved)

Witchcraft: kaliloze (gun)


Prostitutes: Whore; i hule(bitch or prostitute); foolish prostitute; sikumbu (prostitute)

HIV infection: Kambumburu (HIV virus);s akwata kehamba (got infected by HIV)

AIDS syndrome: Bad disease; karukukute (a skinny person); katjumba (a young boy, child); skeleton

Derogatory names: Chameleon; esingahogo (pretender, snake, somebody that comes up with bad ideas in which they do not take part); kangweru (a liar); Mosquito; transmitter

Death: Living corpse; dead-alive; living on borrowed time; zeguru (keguru is something of heavenly nature)

Fear-factor: Calamity; hepeka nyoko (make your mom to suffer); ngomana (you are finished); zamu zuguma (something has been thrown at him/her; victim)

Slang: 4 × 4 (name of a local musical band, a stronger type of vehicle); CD; Sida (AIDS in French); English; shikembandai (a bird)


Prostitutes: Bitch; Mate

HIV infection: Ekiya (thorn);Ombuto (HIV virus)

AIDS syndrome: AIDS boy; Bones; Ekomba (AIDS); Killer disease

Derogatory names: rotten apple; Red house; Donkey; Ekifi (disease); Fool; Gaba xub/xus (go and die you bastard); Mr/Mrs AIDS, HIV, Skinny, or Skeleton

Death: Dead; killer

Slang: Four letters(HIV or AIDS)


Sex: Okapendi (underwear); sugar-dad

HIV infection: Ekiya or Okakiya (thorn); Infected people; Otalumbu nombuto (living with the virus); Owayapa (HIV-infected)

AIDS syndrome:Killer disease

Death: Dead baboon; dead body; omudimba (corpse); Oto kunghula nombila, etsetse (approaching death); dead-alive

Fear-factor: Fire; Katanga kamufifi (hot ball); person on the red line; lion; victims

Slang: Four letters (HIV or AIDS); modern disease


Sex: Ekululume ('real man')

Prostitute:Shikumbu (bitch)

HIV infection: aantu yena omukithi gwoshinanena (HIV/AIDS infected people); Infected people; ekiya, Kakiya (small thorn); namukithi ta kunu ombuto (person spreading the virus); ombuto, Omuntu talumbu nombuto (virus/infected person); okuyina (already infected); okwayapa, yapa (somebody that is already infected)

AIDS syndrome:Oshimbebe (very weak); oshinkapa (very weak or disabled); Osuvi (AIDS); aantu mboka yeli kepango (people on ARVs); AIDS people; ARVs; idisa (disease); omukithi, kakithi (disease); masipa (bones); kuundanda une (of 4 letters or AIDS); obustanga (AIDS); odjou (AIDS); patient; uncured disease

Derogatory names: Idiot; kaavulika (somebody who does not listen to advice or is stubborn)

Death: Kadhipagi, dhipagi, edhipagi-kithi (killer disease); nakusa, onakusa (diseased, someone who will die); dead body

Slang: Four letters (HIV or AIDS); Mr. Four letters; Desert soul; skele (skeleton); waiter; Mr. Deeds

Witchcraft: omulodi (witch)


Sex: aaholiyiipala (people addicted to sex); akulyuunona ("child killer" or sex); ekululume ('real man'); tondo (testes)

HIV infection: Carrier; ota yapa (he or she is caught or HIV-infected); okakwega (small thorn); positive people

AIDS syndrome: A bag of bones; AIDS people, infected people, infections; omukwati gwepango (somebody receiving treatment); shinangele (very thin person); stick

Derogatory names: Shinyakwi noyana (somebody useless with his/her children)

Death: Only one month ahead

Fear-factor: Iihakanwa (AIDS victims); disaster; terminator

Slang: Four letters (HIV or AIDS); Oondanda ne (four letters or AIDS); skeleton

  1. Terms in bold were cited several times