Exploring the relationship between HIV and alcohol use in a remote Namibian mining community

  • Elizabeth Lightfoot
  • Maretha Maree
  • Janet Ananias


In southern Africa, the use of alcohol is increasingly seen as creating a  context of risk for HIV transmission. This qualitative study investigates the links between alcohol use and higher-risk sexual behaviours in a remote southern Namibian mining-town community. Using data from six focus groups and 16 in-depth interviews conducted in 2008, the researchers investigated knowledge of the link between  alcohol consumption and HIV risk, focusing on the specific mechanisms  related to drinking and higher-risk sexual behaviours. Although knowledge regarding HIV and alcohol was high among the mineworkers and other community members, the social structure of a remote mining town appears to lead to high levels of alcohol use and higher-risk sexual behaviours. The heavy use of alcohol acts as an accelerant to these behaviours, including as a source of fortitude for those with an intention to engage in casual sexual partnerships or multiple concurrent partnerships, and as a cause for those behaviours for people who may otherwise intend to avoid them. The findings suggest a need for HIV-prevention programmes that focus more holistically on HIV and AIDS and alcohol use, as well as the need for structural changes to mining-town communities in order to reduce the likelihood of both heavy alcohol use as well as a high prevalence of higher-risk sexual behaviours.

Keywords: community profiles, HIV/AIDS, mineworkers, prevention, risk behaviour, risk factors, sexual behaviour, southern Africa

African Journal of AIDS Research 2009, 8(3): 321–327

Author Biographies

Elizabeth Lightfoot
School of Social Work, University of Minnesota,105 Peters Hall, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108, United States
Maretha Maree
Department of Human Science, University of Namibia, Private Bag 13301, Windhoek, Namibia
Janet Ananias
Department of Human Science, University of Namibia, Private Bag 13301, Windhoek, Namibia

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445