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The impact of church contextual factors on church-going youth's HIV prevention behaviour in Nairobi, Kenya: A cross-denominational study

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Church doctrine about sexual behaviour has long been assumed to have an impact on aspects of the sub-Saharan AIDS epidemic, and evidence suggests that Pentecostal churches have a stronger influence THAN? on the sexual behaviour of their adherents. However, few studies have investigated the denominational differences in sexual attitudes and behaviour of youths, and virtually no empirical evidence is available regarding what specific aspects of the church environment are associated with differences in the response of youths to church messaging about sexual behaviour. This study examined those factors among church-going youth in Nairobi, Kenya. Separate focus groups with male and female youths were conducted in four mainline and three Pentecostal/evangelical (P/E) churches, and in-depth interviews were conducted with youth pastors or pastors of five of those churches. Content of church teaching as reported by youths and pastors did not differ between denominations. However, amount and context of teaching did vary, with P/E churches reportedly offering more teaching about sex to their youth. In addition, P/E churches appeared to provide a more intense experience of community than mainline churches, a situation that may create a context within which abstinence appears to be a reasonable life choice.
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Keywords: Pentecostals; churches; youth HIV prevention

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Central Florida, PO Box 161344, Orlando, Florida, 32816-1344, USA 2: Africa Nazarene University, PO Box 53067, Nairobi, 00200, Kenya

Publication date: 2013-09-01

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