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Sexuality among the elderly in Dzivaresekwa district of Harare: the challenge of information, education and communication campaigns in support of an HIV/AIDS response

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This ethnographic study in Dzivaresekwa district, Harare, Zimbabwe, examines the issue of sexuality among the elderly and their challenges in accessing information, education, and communication (IEC) campaigns in the face of HIV and AIDS. The research depended heavily on collecting life histories through key informant interviews. The theory of structuration (as proposed by Anthony Giddens) was adopted as a framework to analyse the findings. The findings reveal that although the sample of elderly people in Dzivaresekwa district were sexually active, HIV/ AIDS-related interventions in the form of IEC campaigns mainly focus on the age group of 14-49-year-olds, and otherwise consider the elderly only as a group indirectly affected by the epidemic and less at risk of HIV infection. This is mainly a result of society's presumption that people withdraw from sexual life with advanced age. Thus, the elderly are incorrectly regarded as sexually inactive and not susceptible to contracting sexually transmitted infections. A fuller understanding of the sexuality of the elderly is important to increase the usefulness HIV/AIDS efforts, while IEC campaigns that target them are still needed.

Keywords: ageing; ethnography; health education; life histories; sexual behaviour; sexual health; sexually transmitted infections; southern Africa

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2989/16085906.2011.575552

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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