Modelling a traditional game as an agent in HIV/AIDS behaviour-change education and communication

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The level of HIV/AIDS awareness among the Luo of western Kenya is at its highest yet the epidemic continues unabated. While HIV/AIDS is locally recognised as an emergent deadly condition, people seem unconcerned. Deaths related to HIV/AIDS are often euphemistically explained in terms of tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, and 'thinning disease' or chira. The situation is aggravated by gender-based cultural attitudes that are unfortunately predisposing to risk of HIV infection. This ethnographic study explores the potential to model cultural constructs such as traditional games as a means of health communication and agent of behaviour change. The gender undertones and implications for HIV/AIDS in the language of the game ajua are significant in understanding community-specific HIV infection risk. Modelling this traditional game as an agent in HIV/AIDS behaviour-change education and communication allows for forging a socially and culturally compatible and enabling intervention mechanism. The study leads to the conclusion that behaviour-change education and communication in a complex cultural setting should be culture specific and internally derived. Significantly, cultural constructs like traditional games can provide 'rootedness' in terms of HIV/AIDS communication and intervention.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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