Religion and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa

Spencer James, Pennsylvania State University
Tim B. Heaton, Brigham Young University

As the spread of HIV/AIDS devastates sub-Saharan Africa, researchers and policy makers struggle to cope with the looming social, economic and medical catastrophe. We aim to contribute to this ongoing conversation by examining how the likelihood of current HIV/AIDS infection differs by religious affiliation. Since religious organizations can both facilitate and impede the spread of the disease, affiliation with a particular religion may have important consequences for health-related behavior for HIV/AIDS. Using data from the Demographic and Health Surveys for Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe, we examine the role of religious affiliation on HIV infection, controlling for an array of other control, intervening, and mediating variables. Surprisingly, we find modest evidence of religious affiliation on the likelihood of HIV/AIDS infection. We discuss the implications of this and outline future research that will illuminate the complex relationship between religion and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Presented in Poster Session 6