Do Social Interactions Affect Individual HIV/AIDS Attitudes and Prevention Strategies in Rural Malawi?

Patrick Gerland, Princeton University

AIDS awareness alone is a necessary but insufficient condition for individual change in risk behaviors. Instead, it appears that social networks and social participation may be important forces encouraging positive attitudes towards condoms and marital fidelity. In this paper, I analyze network and social participation data gathered from a 1998-2001 household survey in rural Malawi using multivariate models that control for individual socio-economic characteristics and exposure to AIDS prevention information. I find that attendance in local community events, and structure of AIDS conversation networks influence AIDS attitudes and behaviors. Social isolation has the most negative effects on the outcomes examined. Social participation in weddings, funerals, and other gatherings, on the other hand, appears to increase the approval and use of condoms.

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Presented in Session 84: Social Determinants of HIV Dynamics