HIV Prevention in Africa: Religion, Culture, Tradition and Science

Jonathan Mundell

, by Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT)

It is common knowledge that the African continent has been hit hardest by the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Over the past 25 years, Africa has been the prime victim of a small, but highly intelligent virus, which has infected and killed millions of people, and significantly hampered the growth and development of a land with abundant potential. The epidemic has ravaged Africa far more viciously than any other continent, and the reasons for this continue to be explored in an array of research. A primary reason, which has been confirmed by a small library’s worth of literature, is that various African cultural beliefs and traditions encourage risky sexual practices, which in turn increase the risk of exposure to HIV. A recent study in Tanzania, for example, describes the unfortunate “peer pressure” that is regularly placed on the youth to have multiple concurrent sexual partners, with men who limit themselves to just one partner being ridiculed, and called “domo zenge”, meaning “slow to move”. On the contrary, men who succeed in having concurrent sexual relationships with several women are commended, and referred to as either “mshua” (the connoisseur) or “kichwa kikali” (the gifted). Read more