The impact of cultural practices on the spread of HIV/AIDS: An anthropological study of selected countries in sub-Sarahan Africa
African Population Advisory Council, Nairobi, Kenya
Africa is a continent plagued by population problems. These problems have no common solution because they occur in such culturally diverse populations. What works under some cultural conditions simply may not work under others. Deeply entrenched cultural practices have serious implications for the spread of HIV/AIDS, as well as other communicable diseases. In Africa, HIV is spread largely through high-risk, heterosexual behaviours. People know the consequences of these behaviours, but changing them requires knowing their causes, both cultural and material. Community-based research by African Population Advisory Council (APAC) finds that cultural practices such as widow inheritance (the levirate), early marriage, polygamy, bodily scarifications, funeral sexual rites, concubinage, sexual initiation of girls, forced remarriage of widows, and various forms of genital cutting have enhanced, and continue to enhance, the spread of HIV/AIDS. Dealing with these practices must be part of an integrated policy on confronting the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Human immunodeficiency virus