Ukimwi ni kamaliza, the wasting disease: Socio-cultural factors related to AIDS vulnerability among women in Kenya

Type Thesis or Dissertation - PhD
Title Ukimwi ni kamaliza, the wasting disease: Socio-cultural factors related to AIDS vulnerability among women in Kenya
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2006
HIV/AIDS has affected women from sub-Saharan Africa in disproportionate numbers more than anywhere else in the world. Women are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection in Kenya as a result of powerful patriarchal influences that permeate women’s lives leading to marginalization and disempowerment in social, cultural, and economic avenues.

To address the research questions, secondary analysis of data from the 2003 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey was utilized. In this study, it was expected that the demographic variables of age, education, religion, ethnicity, region of residence, marital status, and employment were the independent variables that would influence HIV vulnerability among women. A dependent variable, HIV vulnerability was conceived of a larger concept comprised of powerlessness, AIDS-related knowledge, cultural practices, sexual behavior, and perception of HIV risk.

A one-way analysis of variance, ANOVA was performed to test if significant relations existed between the independent variables and dependent variable. Between-subject effects were identified and multiple comparison tests (Bonferroni) were conducted for these variables; plots were also used to visually present the mean scores. The tests of between-subject effects showed that age (F = 78.848, p = .000), region of residence (F = 21.452, p = .000), education (F = 130.088, p = .000), ethnicity (F = 13.276, p = .000), marital status (F = 39.002, p = .000), and employment (F = 216.592, p = .000) were all statistically significant. However, religion (F = .730, p = .572) was not statistically significant. It had been hypothesized that religion would play a significant role in HIV vulnerability. However this was not the case, and was in contrast with the hypothesis.

In this study, the data strongly suggest that women in Kenya are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS when they are younger, have low levels of education, are from different ethnicities and from certain regions, are unmarried, and not employed. The findings supported the literature that women’s vulnerability is strongly influenced and tied by broader forces present in the society.

The results of this study provide a framework for further vulnerability studies based on a socio-cultural framework. Future studies should consider incorporating qualitative research methods in order to get a holistic picture of the concept of vulnerability.

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