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Perceptions of Risk and Strategies for Prevention: Responses to HIV/AIDS in Rural Malawi

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  • Kirsten P. Smith

    ()
    (Population Studies Center, University of Philadelphia)

  • Susan Cotts Watkins

    (Population Studies Center, University of Philadelphia)

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    Abstract

    This paper combines quantitative and qualitative data to investigate changes in perceived risk of contracting HIV/AIDS in rural Malawi. Using longitudinal survey data, we find that Malawians worried less about contracting HIV/AIDS in 2001 than in 1998. According to qualitative interviews and observational journal accounts, HIV/AIDS and strategies to prevent it are a frequent topic of conversation amongst married Malawians. Women report worrying most about their husbands as a possible source of infection, discussing with them the importance of avoiding infection, and, increasingly, using divorce to reduce their risk. Men report worrying most about their extramarital partners and adopting preventive strategies such as fewer partners and more careful partner selection. We show that the decline in perceived risk is significantly associated with declines in the behaviors that Malawians worry most about and perceptions of risk in individuals’ social networks. We interpret these findings as evidence that Malawians are changing their behavior in ways that may reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.

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    File URL: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/pgda/WorkingPapers/2005/working_paper3.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Program on the Global Demography of Aging in its series PGDA Working Papers with number 0305.

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    Date of creation: 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:gdm:wpaper:0305

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    Web page: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/pgda
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    Related research

    Keywords: Aids; risk; prevention; Malawi;

    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Hans-Peter Kohler & Jere R. Behrman & Susan Cotts Watkins, 1999. "The structure of social networks and fertility decisions: evidence from S. Nyanza District, Kenya," MPIDR Working Papers WP-1999-005, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    2. FFF1Georges NNN1Reniers, 2003. "Divorce and Remarriage in Rural Malawi," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 1(6), pages 175-206, September.
    3. Gregson, Simon & Zhuwau, Tom & Anderson, Roy M. & Chandiwana, Stephen K., 1998. "Is there evidence for behaviour change in response to AIDS in rural Zimbabwe?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 321-330, February.
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    Cited by:
    1. Alexander A. Weinreb & Guy Stecklov, 2009. "Social inequality and HIV-testing," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 21(21), pages 627-646, October.
    2. Anglewicz, Philip & Clark, Shelley, 2013. "The effect of marriage and HIV risks on condom use acceptability in rural Malawi," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 29-40.
    3. Ning Hsieh, 2013. "Perceived risk of HIV infection and mental health in rural Malawi," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 28(13), pages 373-408, February.
    4. Julia Cordero Coma, 2013. "When the group encourages extramarital sex," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 28(30), pages 849-880, April.
    5. Packel, Laura & Dow, William H. & de Walque, Damien & Isdahl, Zachary & Majura, Albert, 2012. "Sexual behavior change intentions and actions in the context of a randomized trial of a conditional cash transfer for HIV prevention in Tanzania," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5997, The World Bank.
    6. Yamauchi, Futoshi & Ueyama, Mika, 2008. "Social learning, selection, and HIV infection: Evidence from Malawi," IFPRI discussion papers 817, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    7. Michelle Poulin & Adamson S. Muula, 2011. "An inquiry into the uneven distribution of women’s HIV infection in rural Malawi," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 25(28), pages 869-902, December.

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