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Kenyan pastors’ perspectives on communicating about sexual behaviour and HIV

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The article presents an analysis of in-depth interviews with 18 leaders of Christian churches in Nairobi, Kenya, regarding the content and context of messages they disseminate to their congregations about sexual behaviour and HIV. The content of messages was nearly consistent across the different denominations. However, three sorts of tensions were identified within pastoral communication about these topics: the need to discuss sex and HIV versus societal taboos against speaking about those issues from the pulpit; traditional cultural norms versus current lifestyles; and the ideals of abstinence and fidelity versus the reality of congregants’ sexual behaviour. Although some of the religious leaders accepted the idea of condom use, no denominational patterns were noted on that subject, except with respect to Catholic priests. Pentecostal leaders were notable for describing proactive strategies to address both the ideal/real dilemma and the tension between church norms and current media content about sexuality and HIV.

Keywords: Africa; Christian denominations; HIV/AIDS; churches; condoms; religion

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Central Florida, Nicholson School of Communication, PO Box 161344OrlandoFlorida32816-1344, United States

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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