Volume 19 - Article 53 | Pages 1811-1830

Polygyny and HIV in Malawi

By Georges Reniers, Rania Tfaily

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Date received:07 May 2007
Date published:10 Oct 2008
Word count:3728
Keywords:AIDS/HIV, Malawi, marriage, polygyny, sexual behavior, Sub-Saharan Africa, widowhood


We review the relationship between polygyny and HIV and identify a positive individual-level correlation, and a negative ecological correlation. We subsequently examine two mechanisms that contribute to the individual-level correlation. First, we find that men in polygynous marriages have more extramarital sex than men in monogamous unions (both in terms of self reports and in terms of spousal reports of the suspicion of adultery). Second, we find evidence of adverse selection of HIV positive women into polygynous unions via an investigation of the relationship between marriage order and polygyny status. We conclude with reflections about possible explanations for the distinct individual and ecological correlations.

Author's Affiliation

Georges Reniers - London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom [Email]
Rania Tfaily - Carleton University, Canada [Email]

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