Transitions to adulthood: Examining the influence of initiation rites on the HIV risk of adolescent girls in Mangochi and Thyolo districts of Malawi

Joanna Skinner, Carol Underwood, Hilary Schwandt, Assana Magombo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Although some cultural practices have been identified as a determinant of HIV transmission, research investigating how specific practices affect HIV risk is lacking. In Malawi, initiation rites, in which young people attend ceremonies around the time of puberty, have received little attention. In this qualitative study, we explored whether communities in southern Malawi perceive initiation rites to be an HIV risk factor for girls. Twelve focus group discussions were held with adolescents and adults in a rural community of Thyolo district and a peri-urban community of Mangochi district. Community members observed that certain aspects of traditional initiation rites propel girls into sexual roles expected of adulthood, without facilitating their adaption to the emerging landscape of HIV, thereby increasing HIV risk. HIV prevention programming needs to address the role of initiation rites in adolescent girls' vulnerability to HIV and help young girls navigate the conflicting messages they receive from a wide range of channels about expected sexual behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-301
Number of pages6
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013

Keywords

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Malawi
  • adolescents
  • girls
  • initiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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