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Soc Sci Med. 2003 Mar;56(6):1221-34.

Religion and women's health in Ghana: insights into HIV/AIDs preventive and protective behavior.

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Department of Sociology, University of Akron, Akron, OH 44325-1905, USA.


Since the late 1970s when the first cases of HIV/AIDS were identified in Africa, there has been an upsurge of research on the epidemic. Although religious involvement may be germane to AIDS protective and risk behavior, few of these studies deal with religion and AIDS. This article contributes to the discourse on religion and health in Africa by analysing the interrelationship between religion and AIDS behavior in Ghana, a West African country at the early stages of the AIDS epidemic, and one where religious activities are more pronounced. We explore whether a woman's knowledge of HIV/AIDS is associated with her religious affiliation, and whether religious affiliation influences AIDS preventive (protective) attitudes. Findings from our analysis of Ghanaian data indicate that religious affiliation has a significant effect on knowledge of AIDS. However, we did not find religious affiliation to be associated with changes in specific protective behavior, particularly the use of condoms. The limitations and implications of the study are discussed, promising directions for further research on religion and AIDS protective and risk behaviors are also discussed, and the design and development of culturally sensitive programs to help in the ongoing AIDS prevention efforts in the region are proposed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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