HIV/AIDS misconceptions may be associated with condom use among black South Africans: an exploratory analysis

  • Laura M Bogart
  • Donald Skinner
  • Lance S Weinhardt
  • Laura Glasman
  • Cheryl Sitzler
  • Yoesrie Toefy
  • Seth C Kalichman

Abstract

In South Africa, approximately 20% of 15–49-year-olds are infected with HIV. Among black South Africans, high levels of HIV/AIDS misconceptions (e.g. HIV is manufactured by whites to reduce the black African population; AIDS is caused by supernatural forces or witchcraft) may be barriers to HIV prevention. We  conducted a cross-sectional study of 150 young black adults (aged 18–26; 56% males) visiting a public clinic for sexually transmitted infections, to investigate  whether HIV/AIDS misconceptions were related to low condom use in main partner relationships. We assessed agreement with HIV/AIDS misconceptions  relating to the supernatural (e.g. witchcraft as a cause of HIV) and to genocide (e.g. the withholding of a cure). In multivariate models, agreement that ‘Witchcraft plays a role in HIV transmission’ was significantly related to less positive attitudes about condoms, less belief in condom effectiveness for HIV  prevention, and lower intentions to use condoms among men. The belief that ‘Vitamins and fresh fruits and vegetables can cure AIDS’ was associated with lower intentions among men to use condoms. Women who endorsed the belief linking HIV to witchcraft had a higher likelihood of unprotected sex with a main  partner, whereas women who endorsed the belief that a cure for AIDS was being  withheld had a lower likelihood of having had unprotected sex. Knowledge about distinct types of HIV/AIDS misconceptions and their correlates can help in the design of culturally appropriate HIV-prevention messages that address such beliefs.

Keywords: health beliefs; HIV/AIDS knowledge; sexual behaviour; social psychology

African Journal of AIDS Research 2011, 10(2): 181–187

Author Biographies

Laura M Bogart
Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School, Division of General Pediatrics, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, United States
Donald Skinner
Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Health Sciences, Health in Research and Society Unit, PO Box 19063, Tygerberg 7505, Cape Town, South Africa
Lance S Weinhardt
Center for AIDS Intervention Research (CAIR), Medical College of Wisconsin, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, 2071 North Summit Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202, United States
Laura Glasman
Center for AIDS Intervention Research (CAIR), Medical College of Wisconsin, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, 2071 North Summit Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202, United States
Cheryl Sitzler
Center for AIDS Intervention Research (CAIR), Medical College of Wisconsin, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, 2071 North Summit Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202, United States
Yoesrie Toefy
Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Health Sciences, Health in Research and Society Unit, PO Box 19063, Tygerberg 7505, Cape Town, South Africa
Seth C Kalichman
University of Connecticut, Department of Psychology, 406 Babbidge Road, Unit 1020, Storrs, Connecticut 06269-1020, United States
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445