MPIDR Working Paper

Determinants of individual AIDS risk perception: knowledge, behavioural control, and social influence

Bernardi, L.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2002-029, 33 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (July 2002)
Also published in: African Journal of AIDS Research 1, 111-124 (2002)
Open Access


In sub-Saharan Africa an almost universal awareness of AIDS lethality and of HIV sexual transmission mechanism coexists together with a reluctance in adopting consequent preventive measures as protected sexual intercourse. The socio-psychological literature on health-related behaviour emphasises the perception of being at risk of HIV/AIDS infection as being one of the necessary conditions for preventive behaviour to be adopted. Analysing data from the Kenya Diffusion and Ideational Change (KDIC) Project, this paper investigates the determinants of the reported degree of risk perception of getting infected by HIV/AIDS. In particular, adopting a social interaction approach, we argue that individual risk perception is shaped by social network influences. We use information about conversation related to AIDS and HIV infection risk occurring among individuals and their social network members. We are able to show to what extent neglecting individuals´ reciprocal influences into explanatory models leads to a mis-estimation of the weight of other factors, as AIDS related knowledge and behavioural factors.

Keywords: Kenya, social network
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.