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      "Half plate of rice to a male casual sexual partner, full plate belongs to the husband": Findings from a qualitative study on sexual behaviour in relation to HIV and AIDS in northern Tanzania

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          A thorough understanding of the contexts of sexual behaviour of the people who are vulnerable to HIV infection is an important component in the battle against AIDS epidemic. We conducted a qualitative study to investigate perceptions, attitudes and practices of sexually active people in three districts of northern Tanzania with the view of collecting data to inform the formulation of appropriate complementary interventions against HIV and AIDS in the study communities.


          We conducted 96 semi-structured interviews and 48 focus group discussions with sexually active participants (18-60 years of age) who were selected purposively in two fishing and one non-fishing communities.


          The study revealed a number of socio-economic and cultural factors which act as structural drivers of HIV epidemic. Mobility and migration were mentioned to be associated with the risk of HIV acquisition and transmission. Sexual promiscuous behaviour was common in all study communities. Chomolea , (a quick transactional sex) was reported to exist in fishing communities, whereas extramarital sex in the bush was reported in non-fishing community which was predominantly Christian and polygamous. Traditional practices such as Kusomboka (death cleansing through unprotected sex) was reported to exist. Other risky sexual behaviour and traditional practices together with their socio-economic and cultural contexts are presented in details and discussed. Knowledge of condom was low as some people mistook them for balloons to play with and as decorations for their living rooms. Acute scarcity of condoms in some remote areas such as vizingani (fishing islands) push some people to make their own condoms locally known as kondomu za pepsi using polythene bags.


          HIV prevention efforts can succeed by addressing sexual behaviour and its socio-economic and cultural contexts. More innovative, interdisciplinary and productive structural approaches to HIV prevention need to be developed in close collaboration with affected communities and be closely related to policy-making and implementation; to go beyond the limited success of traditional behavioural and biomedical interventions to particularly address the underlying social and structural drivers of HIV risk and vulnerability in the study communities.

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          Most cited references 28

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          Structural approaches to HIV prevention.

          Recognition that social, economic, political, and environmental factors directly affect HIV risk and vulnerability has stimulated interest in structural approaches to HIV prevention. Progress in the use of structural approaches has been limited for several reasons: absence of a clear definition; lack of operational guidance; and limited data on the effectiveness of structural approaches to the reduction of HIV incidence. In this paper we build on evidence and experience to address these gaps. We begin by defining structural factors and approaches. We describe the available evidence on their effectiveness and discuss methodological challenges to the assessment of these often complex efforts to reduce HIV risk and vulnerability. We identify core principles for implementing this kind of work. We also provide recommendations for ensuring the integration of structural approaches as part of combined prevention strategies.
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            The association between HIV infection and alcohol use: a systematic review and meta-analysis of African studies.

            To summarize the association between alcohol use and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection based on studies conducted in Africa, EMBASE and PubMed were searched for African studies that related alcohol use to HIV infection. Meta-analyses were conducted to obtain pooled univariate and multivariate relative risk estimates. Subgroup analyses were performed for studies having different sample types: males or females and population-based or high-risk, and ones that differentiated between problem and asymptomatic drinkers. Alcohol drinkers were more apt to be HIV+ than nondrinkers. The pooled unadjusted odds ratio (OR) from 20 studies was 1.70 (95% confidence interval, CI = 1.45-1.99). Results from 11 studies that adjusted for other risk factors produced a pooled risk estimate of 1.57 (95% CI = 1.42-1.72). Males and females had similar risk estimates, while studies involving high-risk samples tended to report larger pooled odds ratios than studies of the general population. When compared with nondrinkers, the pooled estimates of HIV risk were 1.57 (95% CI = 1.33-1.86) for non-problem drinkers versus 2.04 (95% CI = 1.61-2.58) for problem drinkers, a statistically significant difference (z = 2.08, P <0.04). Alcohol use was associated with HIV infection in Africa and alcohol-related interventions might help reduce further expansion of the epidemic.
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              Is there an association between alcohol consumption and sexually transmitted diseases? A systematic review.

              The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review of published literature on the association between problematic alcohol consumption and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Using a MEDLINE search (1995-2003) and article references, we identified articles that described measures of alcohol consumption and STDs and presented data on their association. For each eligible study, we classified the alcohol consumption measure as specific (problem drinking) or general, and examined study designs, study populations, STD measures, and results. Of 42 eligible studies, 11 included specific measures of problem drinking, of which 8 found a significant association between alcohol consumption and at least 1 STD. The relationship did not appear to vary according to gender or pattern of alcohol consumption assessed. The literature supports an overall association between problematic alcohol consumption and STDs, although their causal relationship cannot be determined with certainty from these observational studies. The findings have implications for prevention planners, clinicians, and individual patients at risk of STDs.

                Author and article information

                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central
                28 December 2011
                : 11
                : 957
                [1 ]National Institute for Medical Research, P.O. Box 1462, Mwanza, Tanzania
                Copyright ©2011 Mwanga et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article


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