The role of social interactions in the decision of condom use against HIV/AIDS

Julia Cordero, Instituto Juan March, CEACS

A paradoxical fact that has been observed in different contexts is that individuals who are aware of the risk associated with HIV/AIDS and who have a relatively good knowledge about the disease, the ways the infection can be transmitted, and the range of preventive practices that can be adopted, they do not necessarily protect themselves during their sexual relationships. Many authors have pointed out that this question could be understood if the relevant role of social factors in the decision of, for instance, using a condom is taken into account. I consider that, as in a coordination game, individual’s behaviour depends somehow on her expectations about others’ opinion and behaviour. Open communication with other people about AIDS, sexuality or related subjects may facilitate the spread process of a new preventive practice, especially in social contexts where the condom use conflicts with certain social norms already established. For that reason, this paper is an attempt to go more deeply into the analysis of the influence of social interactions in the use of condom, considering aspects such as the types of confidants and their links with the individual, as well as the level of knowledge about the disease and attitudes towards AIDS among the people around her. Besides, the communication with the sexual partner is studied as an intermediate variable. Unlike many researches about communication, I make use of quantitative techniques, and take advantage of the valuable information provided by the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHSs), which allow to make a suggestive comparative analysis. I focus on women between 15 and 49 years old within two sub-Saharan countries that have high levels of HIV prevalence, but different experiences in relation to the epidemic control: Malawi and Uganda in the 2000’s decade.

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Presented in Poster Session 3