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Superstition, witchcraft and HIV prevention in sub-Saharan Africa: the case of Ghana
Authors: Eric Y Tenkorang, Stephen O Gyimah, Eleanor Maticka-Tyndale, Jones Adjei
Source: Culture, Health and Sexuality, 13(9):1001-1014; DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2011.592218
Topic(s): Contraception
HIV/AIDS
Sexual behavior
Country: Africa
  Ghana
Published: OCT 2011
Abstract: Abstract: Belief in superstition and witchcraft is central to many African conceptions of illness, disease causation and etiology. While a number of anthropological studies have alluded to a theoretical link between such beliefs and HIV prevention in particular, there is limited empirical assessment of the association. Using data from the 2008 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey and applying random-effects logit models, we investigate whether the belief that AIDS can spread through witchcraft associates with the sexual decision making of never-married men and women. The results show that men who believed AIDS can spread through witchcraft and other supernatural means were less likely to have used condoms at last sexual intercourse, controlling for other socioeconomic and cultural variables. Women with similar beliefs were more likely to have experienced sexual intercourse but less likely to have used condoms at last sex. For women, however, the relationship between such superstitious beliefs and condom use was somewhat attenuated after controlling for ethnicity and region of residence. From a policy perspective, the findings suggest that local beliefs regarding AIDS causation must be considered in designing HIV/AIDS programmes and interventions. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]