Church mobilisation and HIV/AIDS treatment in Ghana and Zambia: a comparative analysis

  • Amy S Patterson


This article compares Ghanaian and Zambian church mobilisation on HIV and AIDS. It analyses why long-term interest in HIV and AIDS has declined in Ghana but increased in Zambia, and why church involvement in promoting access to HIV/AIDS treatment has been less apparent in Ghana than in Zambia. The article uses three levels of analysis ― society, state, and international ― to explicate these different patterns. The analysis finds that continued HIV/AIDS stigma hampered Ghanaian church activities, while a decline in stigma opened up space for churchrelated HIV/AIDS responses in Zambia. The elite and professional nature of Ghana’s churches promoted early HIV/AIDS activities, but may have prevented these activities from responding to the needs of people with HIV or AIDS. Overlapping personal networks between civil society and state elites in Ghana urged early HIV/AIDS church-related actions, while state co-optation and civil-society divisions in Zambia limited early HIV/AIDS activities. As Zambian churches built ties to external actors, however, they gained autonomy in their HIV/AIDS responses. In contrast, the fact that Ghana was less incorporated into global HIV/AIDS responses (particularly, the global treatment movement) weakened the long-term interest in HIV and AIDS among the country’s churches. The article is based on more than 50 semi-structured interviews with a range of participants affiliated with HIV/AIDS organisations (e.g. church, secular, government, donor) in Zambia and Ghana.

Keywords: Africa, aid policy, civil society, funding, national AIDS councils, political aspects, stigma

African Journal of AIDS Research 2010, 9(4): 407–418

Author Biography

Amy S Patterson
Calvin College, Department of Political Science, 1810 East Beltline SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546, United States

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445