Exploring the role of cognitive and structural forms of social capital in HIV/AIDS trends in the Kagera region of Tanzania - a grounded theory study
The article presents a synthesis of data from three village case studies focusing on how structural and cognitive social capital may have influenced the progression of the HIV epidemic in the Kagera region of Tanzania. Grounded theory was used to develop a theoretical model describing
the possible links between structural and cognitive social capital and the impact on sexual health behaviours. Focus group discussions and key informant interviews were carried out to represent the range of experiences of existing social capital. Both structural and cognitive social capital
were active avenues for community members to come together, empower each other, and develop norms, values, trust and reciprocal relations. This empowerment created an enabling environment in which members could adopt protective behaviours against HIV infection. On the one hand, we observed
that involvement in formal and informal organisations resulted in a reduction of numbers of sexual partners, led people to demand abstinence from sexual relations until marriage, caused fewer opportunities for casual sex, and gave individuals the agency to demand the use of condoms. On the
other hand, strict membership rules and regulations excluded some members, particularly excessive alcohol drinkers and debtors, from becoming members of the social groups, which increased their vulnerability in terms of exposure to HIV. Social gatherings (especially those organised during
the night) were also found to increase youths' risk of HIV infection through instances of unsafe sex. We conclude that even though social capital may at times have negative effects on individuals' HIV-prevention efforts, this study provides initial evidence that social capital is largely protective
through empowering vulnerable groups such as women and the poor to protect against HIV infection and by promoting protective sexual behaviours.
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Document Type: Research Article
Department of Development Studies, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania,Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden,Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Malmo, Sweden
Publication date: 2011-04-01
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