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NATIONAL HIV/AIDS RESEARCH AND BEST PRACTICES CONFERENCE - page 46 / 103

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A.34.Malawi Behavioral Surveillance Survey (BSS) 2004

Kaseje, M., Kabwazi, N., Matatiyo, B. , Moyo, H., Zanera, D.

Objectives and scope: The study was conducted to provide baseline information on behavioral patterns where interventions are planned or operating, and for development of behavioral trend tracking system among vulnerable and high-risk groups. Furthermore, it was meant to open dialogue between policy makers and communities on HIV/AIDS. It was also done to obtain data in a relatively standardized format for comparison with other countries. The study targeted 13 target groups in nine districts in Malawi.

Methodology: Both quantitative and qualitative study methods were undertaken. A total of 7,660 respondents were surveyed. Qualitatively, 20 focus group discussions and 6 in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted.

Results: Misconceptions about HIV transmission still persist among some target groups. For example, over 85% of police officers interviewed agreed that HIV can be transmitted through sharing a meal. Close to 50% of all target groups except police officers had full knowledge about three methods of HIV prevention (abstinence, faithfulness, condoms). A large percent of police officers (94% males and 85% females) did not agree that people could protect themselves from HIV by abstaining from sex. High proportions of some target groups had multiple non-regular sex partners, e.g., 73% of male vendors. Hence abstinence and faithfulness were reported to be ideals that were hard to practice. Only 3% of married couples and boy/girlfriend relationships used condoms. Radio was most often reported as a source of HIV prevention information. The least popular were billboards, stickers, newsletters and fliers, each at almost zero percent.

Conclusions: It is apparent that even after many years of consistent HIV/AIDS messages, misconceptions about transmission persist, risky behavior remain high in some population groups, and condom use remains low particularly among regular sex partners.

Recommendations: It is important to continue monitoring these target groups through bi-annual BSS. There is need to re-evaluate and improve HIV/AIDS message development and dissemination campaigns.

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