Older adults who believe in ritualized ancestral protection from disease have more negative attitudes toward condom use, which “could, therefore, be construed as a risk factor in HIV/AIDS prevention among older participants,” found researchers led by Dr Christine Liddell, of the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland.
“Since older participants were between 35 and 45 years old, most were probably sexually active, rendering this a noteworthy risk,” the authors added.
The 407 study participants live in a remote, impoverished rural area of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, a region extending from the borders with Swaziland and Mozambique to the Eastern Cape in the south.
Participants, who fell into one of two age groups, were given questionnaires designed to measure and correlate AIDS-prevention attitudes to beliefs about ancestral protection and illness. The younger group (ages 18 to 24) showed more positive attitudes to AIDS precautions, with no significant correlations between those attitudes and traditional beliefs still held in their communities.
The study appears in the current online issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
To their surprise, Liddell and colleagues found that strong belief in traditional explanations of illness among the older participants was associated with more positive attitudes toward condom use.
“One possibility is that condoms fit harmoniously with traditional views of infectious substances, and how these can be avoided,” the researchers suggest. “A variety of protective charms and amulets can be worn as a means of warding off their harmful effects, and condoms may fit well with the concept of warding off contamination by polluted substances.”
In 2003, an estimated 38 percent of pregnant women in KwaZulu-Natal were HIV- positive, as were 14.1 percent of 15- to 24-year-olds. Per capita income is less than half the South African average.
The study “points to a major problem,” said Thomas Coates, Ph.D., director of the global infectious disease program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Accurate information about how to prevent transmission or acquisition is lacking, especially among older individuals. Thus, there should be little wonder that the HIV epidemic is out of control, especially in places like KwaZulu-Natal.”
In KwaZulu-Natal, as in much of traditional, tribal Africa, sexually transmitted diseases, premature death and epidemics are attributed to witchcraft and sorcery. According to study background information, it is believed that “an individual’s ancestors accord protection from disease and other misfortunes, provided the individual observes a variety of customs and rituals.”
"It is heartening, in this study, that younger people had more accurate information, and that traditional beliefs did not interfere with their understanding of the modes of HIV prevention," said Coates.
As for future studies: “When trying to understand any community or group of individuals, it will be essential to realize that any such gathering has texture, and that a variety of understandings and beliefs coexist and any attempt to provide education or behavior change will have to respect this variety," Coates said.
David Young | alfa
Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds
28.11.2017 | University of Chicago Medical Center
The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
12.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences
12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering