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
Demographic Research, S1:13, 397–438 (2003)
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 Kenya 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.
Keywords: Kenya, aids, behavior, communication, network