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Myths or facts: what do serodiscordant couples in Malawi know about HIV ad AIDS? - Kondwani Wella

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Myths or facts: what do serodiscordant couples in Malawi know about HIV ad AIDS? - Kondwani Wella

  1. 1. Myths or Facts what serodiscordant couples in Malawi know about HIV and AIDS Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference, 25th April 2014 Kondwani Wella Information School
  2. 2. Outline of the presentation • Definitions • HIV problem in Malawi • The study • Challenges serodiscordant couples face when accessing HIV and AIDS information • 6 Myths • Effect of the myths
  3. 3. Malawi
  4. 4. Definitions • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): It is a virus that infects cells of the human immune system. • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS): This is a surveillance term based on signs, symptoms, infections, and cancers that manifest as a result of being infected with the HIV virus and the resultant suppression of the immune system • Serodiscordant couple: This is a couple in which one partner is HIV-positive and one partner is HIV-negative • Experience: A person being consciously affected by phenomena through which subjectivity is drawn into meaning
  5. 5. The HIV problem in Malawi • 1985: First HIV case identified in Malawi • 2010: 11% of adults aged 15-49 infected with HIV in Malawi • 2010: 13% women and 8% men aged 15-49 infected with HIV in Malawi • 12% of the world population live in Sub Saharan Africa • 69% of all people living with HIV world wide lived in Sub Saharan Africa in 2011 • 71% of all new HIV infections occur in Sub Saharan Africa • 80% of new HIV infections in Malawi occurred among serodiscordant couples in 2011 • In 2009 WHO identified serodiscordant couples as a group at high risk BUT not included in many HIV prevention programmes
  6. 6. The study Research question How do serodiscordant couples in Malawi experience HIV and AIDS information? Research approach Phenomenology: Seeks to understand how people experience a particular phenomenon
  7. 7. Methods: Data collection • In-depth interviews –Interviewed couples; both partners together –Interviewed them in their homes • Observations –After interviews I asked couples to show me information objects they had
  8. 8. Sample • 21 serodiscordant couples (42 participants) and 3 participants who had separated from their partners • Urban-Lilongwe City and rural - Dedza District • Interviews were conducted between September and October 2013 • 10 couples had the female partner HIV positive • 11 had the male partner HIV positive. • Two of the couples that had separated had the male partner HIV positive.
  9. 9. Access to HIV and AIDS information: the challenges • Serodiscordance itself is a challenge: the two partners have different information needs • The HIV negative partner was considered “a spy” in forums for HIV positive people • Limited reliable sources (e.g. Not many have access to internet and libraries) • Lack of information literacy skills (most couples believed all HIV and AIDS information is correct and useful)
  10. 10. .... Challenges • Inaccessible formats – Due to illiteracy some couples could not use print information resources – Some couples could not read information resources in English • Language – information is in English and needs to be translated – Translation is problematic due to lack of culturally acceptable and appropriate terminology – Translation sometimes leads to ambiguity of messages • Some HIV and AIDS messages are deemed unafrican and obscene
  11. 11. Myths Myth 1: Mosquitoes can transmit HIV “….sometimes they say on the radio that the virus can come from injections that are not sterilised, sometimes through blood transfusion, even mosquitoes…” (couple #13) Myth 2: If I shake my husband’s hand I will be infected “Yes, they were just talking; saying that when someone is HIV positive we should avoid getting closer to them because they can transmit the virus to you. That distressed me because I eat from the same plate with my husband” (couple # 21).
  12. 12. …….myths Myth 3: If my spouse is HIV positive then am also positive “In my mind I had already established it; there is no need to use condoms, am already infected, the virus is just hiding, you see, I did not have enough information when all this was happening…” (couple #17) Myth 4: If I reach organism faster than my wife I will not get infected “… a man should be fast when doing things; if you are slow you will get infected….in bed I always make sure I get there before her”. (couple #19)
  13. 13. …. myths Myth 5: Condoms have a hole through which the virus can pass through “…those condoms, we are told that they have some form of air that can enter your body… They told us that condoms are not 100% perfect …. they were made for people who don’t listen to advice” (couple #7). Myth 6: When you are on ART the virus becomes dormant/sleeps therefore no need to use condoms “…I heard from friends that when one is on ART the virus is weakened, it becomes useless…” (couple #14)
  14. 14. Effects on information literacy • Increase in stigma and therefore affect information seeking (myth 1 & 2) • Couples resign to fate which increases transmission of HIV among serodiscordant couples (myth 3) • Male ego which marginalises women, making them unable to act on HIV and AIDS information (myth 4) • Some myths distort the intended message of HIV and AIDS information (e.g. those perpetuated by translation) (myth 6) • Some myths create a sense of guilt (e.g. those perpetuated with the church) (myth 5)
  15. 15. References Malawi Government. (2012). 2012 Global AIDS Response Progress Report: Malawi Country Report for 2010 and 2011. Lilongwe, Malawi: Malawi Government. Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. (2012b). Global report UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic : 2012. Geneva: UNAIDS.
  16. 16. Acknowledgements Kondwani Wella is a Commonwealth Scholar, funded by the UK government. PhD project is supervised by Ms Sheila Webber and Prof. Philippa Levy Conference registration sponsored by University of Sheffield, Information School
  17. 17. Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise! Thank you

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