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Spousal communication about the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS in rural Malawi

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Author Info

  • FFF1Eliya NNN1Zulu

    (African Population and Health Research Center, Nairobi)

  • FFF2Gloria NNN2Chepngeno

    (Zulu African Population and Health Research Center)

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    Abstract

    This paper uses qualitative and quantitative data from married men and women in rural Malawi to examine how they comprehend their risk to HIV/AIDS and what preventive strategies they consider within marriage. Program efforts to promote behavior change have consistently focused on promoting chastity before marriage and fidelity while married or using condoms. These behavioral prescriptions are suitable for extramarital contexts but not within marriage, where the condom is far from being accepted as a suitable preventive tool and spouses face the reality that one’s vulnerability to AIDS is not confined to his/her behavior alone. The survey data show, unsurprisingly, that those who have the most reason for concern (e.g. those worried about contracting the disease) and those who have greater program and informal social contacts are most likely to communicate. The semi-structured interviews show that husbands and wives use subtle and gendered strategies to encourage fidelity; they talk to each other about the consequences of HIV/AIDS on their children’s and their own lives as a prelude for highlighting and justifying joint sexual prudence. These results show that rather than giving up to fate, marital partners are actively challenging and persuading each other to reform sexual behavior to avoid the intrusion of HIV/AIDS into the home.

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    File URL: http://www.demographic-research.org/special/1/8/s1-8.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its journal Demographic Research Special Collections.

    Volume (Year): 1 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 8 (September)
    Pages: 247-278

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    Handle: RePEc:dem:drspec:v:1:y:2003:i:8

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    Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

    Related research

    Keywords: AIDS/HIV; gender; Malawi; marriage;

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    References

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    1. F. Dodoo, 1998. "Men matter: Additive and interactive gendered preferences and reproductive behavior in kenya," Demography, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 229-242, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Mertens, Frédéric & Saint-Charles, Johanne & Mergler, Donna, 2012. "Social communication network analysis of the role of participatory research in the adoption of new fish consumption behaviors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(4), pages 643-650.
    2. Telalagic, S., 2012. "Domestic Production as a Source of Marital Power: Theory and Evidence from Malawi," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1243, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    3. Gerritzen, Berit C., 2012. "Women’s Empowerment and HIV Prevention in Rural Malawi," Economics Working Paper Series 1222, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.

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