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An inquiry into the uneven distribution of women's HIV infection in rural Malawi

Author(s): Michelle Poulin | Adamson S. Muula

Journal: Demographic Research
ISSN 1435-9871

Volume: 25;
Start page: 28;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Ecological comparisons in sub-Saharan Africa show that HIV prevalence is lower where men are generally circumcised than where they are not. Randomized controlled trials have found a 50-60Š reduction in HIV acquisition for newly circumcised men. Yet in Malawi, HIV prevalence is highest in several districts in the Southern Region, where men are commonly circumcised. We draw upon a population-based sample of ever-married women to explore this unexpected finding. Our data show that in the southern district of Balaka, women with circumcised spouses have a lower probability of HIV infection compared to those with uncircumcised spouses. However, the strength of this effect is conditioned by specific marital histories: among women with circumcised spouses, those with multiple marriages and an absence of spousal co-residence have a higher probability of HIV infection than do those married once and those who have never lived apart from their spouses. The history of marital turnover and female-headed households among the ethnic groups of Balaka offer insight into the district's elevated HIV levels.

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