Religion Key Factor in Preventing AIDS in Africa


Bryan Patterson's Faithworks

IN their new book “Religion and AIDS in Africa” (Oxford University Press), sociologists Jenny Trinitapoli and Alexander Weinreb seek to challenge the widespread view that religious beliefs and communities have unwittingly assisted in the spread of the disease through their resistance to preventative sex education.

They also show that not only have religious groups had a largely positive role in AIDS prevention, but also how the epidemic has shaped religious beliefs in unexpected ways.

The sociologists base much of their fieldwork in Malawi but also draw on surveys from other sub-Saharan African countries. They challenge the idea that African religious leaders share a common perception of AIDS as a judgment of sinful behavior.

Using religious messages to support abstinence tends to be more effective than using instrumental motivations, such as asking young people to abstain so they can attend college or have fulfilling careers, mainly because of the poverty in…

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