Religious Teachings and Influences on the ABCs of HIV Prevention

Jenny Trinitapoli, University of Texas at Austin

This study examines the relationship between religion and HIV-risk behaviors in rural Malawi, giving special attention to the role of religious congregations, the organizations with which rural Africans have most immediate contact. The first aim is descriptive – to identify overall patterns and variations in what religious leaders in rural Malawi teach about HIV and about sexual behavior in light of the epidemic. The second aim is to assess how religious organizations impact the behavior of individual members. I examine three outcomes that correspond with the ABCs of HIV prevention: abstinence (for unmarried individuals), fidelity (for married persons), and condom use, and directly test the relationship between the characteristics of religious organizations (doctrines, strictness) and the reported behavior of individuals using multi-level models. Significant negative associations between congregational strictness and risky sexual behavior suggest that religious congregations are, indeed, an important force motivating AIDS-related behavior change.

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Presented in Poster Session 5