The social and cultural contexts of HIV/AIDS transmission in the Kagera region, Tanzania

Joe L.P. Lugalla, M. A.C. Emmelin, A. K. Mutembei, C. J. Comoro, J. Z.J. Killewo, G. Kwesigabo, A. I.M. Sandstrom, L. G. Dahlgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Like poverty, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is affecting the sub-continent of Saharan Africa more severely than any other parts of the world, with sixty three percent of global AIDS cases occurring in this region. Tanzania is one of the severely affected countries within sub-Saharan Africa. It is evident that AIDS in this continent is transmitted mainly through heterosexual contact. Since a cure is yet to be found, a change in sexual behavior seems to be the only reliable method of controlling the further spread of HIV. Sexual behavior is shaped by a variety of social and cultural factors inherent in the society. Therefore, understanding the social-cultural context within which AIDS is spreading is important for successful intervention. In order to achieve this, the Kagera AIDS Research Project (KARP) initiated a study aimed at understanding the social cultural processes that shape the dynamics of HIV transmission in the Kagera region of Tanzania. The findings suggest that there are a variety of factors responsible for the rapid transmission of HIV/AIDS in this region, which include political factors such as organized violence (war); economic factors, particularly poverty; and cultural factors or traditions, especially in terms of the way they shape gender inequality, romantic attachments and sex meanings and beliefs. The study proposes that intervention strategies must be multi-dimensional, and must reflect the local cultural conditions as well as involve the local people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-402
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Asian and African Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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