Special Collection 1 - Article 13 | Pages 397-438

Talking about AIDS: The influence of communication networks on individual risk perceptions of HIV/AIDS infection and favored protective behaviors in South Nyanza District, Kenya

By Christoph Bühler, Hans-Peter Kohler, PhD

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Date received:22 Jan 2003
Date published:19 Sep 2003
Word count:9400
Keywords:AIDS/HIV, communication networks, Kenya, prevention, risk behaviors
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2003.S1.13
 

Abstract

This paper explores the significance of social relationships to two important stages in the process of sexual behavioral change in response to increased HIV/AIDS risk in rural Africa: the perceived risk of becoming HIV-infected through unprotected sexual intercourse and the preferred methods of protection either through sexual fidelity, or through condom use. The empirical analyses are based on cross-sectional data from the 'Kenyan Diffusion and Ideational Change Project' (KDICP) which provides information about AIDS-related, ego-centered communication networks of Kenyan men and women.
The results show that perceived risks, as well as preferred methods of protection against HIV-infection, depend in general on the prevailing perceptions and favored protective methods within personal communication networks. However, different influential network properties can be found. The risk-perceptions of women are shaped by strong relationships and cohesive network structures. Male's risk perception depends more on the number of risk-perceivers in their communication networks. Heterogeneous relationships of various kinds are influential on women's and men's probability of favoring sexual faithfulness as a method of protection against HIV-infection.

Author's Affiliation

Christoph Bühler - Leibniz Universitaet Hannover, Germany [Email]
Hans-Peter Kohler, PhD - University of Pennsylvania, United States of America [Email]

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