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"My Girlfriends Could Fill A Yanu-Yanu Bus"

Author(s): Kaler Amy

Journal: Demographic Research
ISSN 1435-9871

Volume: Special collection 1;
Start page: 11;
Date: 2003;
Original page

Keywords: Africa | AIDS/HIV

In this paper, I investigate the ways that young men in rural southern Malawi talk about HIV and their own perceptions of risk. I relate these findings first to evolving gender relations in Malawi during the AIDS epidemic, and second to HIV prevention measures, with specific recommendations for changes in existing prevention campaigns. I make three claims in this paper: first, that an unknown proportion of sexually active young men say that they are already HIV-positive, in the absence of any medical evaluation or any signs of AIDS; second, that men's claims to be HIV-positive emerge from a particular configuration of masculinity as well as from personal conviction; and third, that this belief is used to justify continuing risky sexual behaviour, such as having multiple partners or not using condoms, on the grounds that this behaviour is no longer dangerous if one has already contracted the virus. This paper is based on observational journals kept by local research assistants in which they recorded mentions of AIDS in informal conversations which they overheard or participated in. I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this classically anthropological methodology, as distinct from the more survey methods more standard in demography.
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