Back to browse results
Spousal Communication about HIV Prevention in Kenya
Authors: Chi Chiao, Vinod Mishra, and Kate Ksobiech
Source: Journal of Health Communication, 16(10):1088-105. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2011.571335
Topic(s): HIV/AIDS
Country: Africa
Published: NOV 2011
Abstract: High HIV rates among cohabiting couples in many African countries have led to greater programmatic emphasis on spousal communication in HIV prevention. This study examines how demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of cohabiting adults influence their dyadic communication about HIV. A central focus of this research is on how the position of women relative to their male partners influences spousal communication about HIV prevention. The authors analyze gaps in spousal age and education and females' participation in household decision making as key factors influencing spousal communication about HIV, while controlling for sexual behaviors of both partners as well as other individual and contextual factors. Data were obtained from the 2003 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey for 1,388 cohabiting couples. Information regarding spousal communication was self-reported, assessing whether both, either, or neither partner ever discussed HIV prevention with the other. Analyses showed higher levels of education for the female partner and participation in household decision making are positively associated with spousal communication about HIV prevention. With females' education and other factors controlled, couples with more educated male partners were more likely to have discussed HIV prevention than couples in which both partners have the same level of education. Spousal communication was also positively associated with household wealth status and exposure to the mass media, but couples in which male partners reported having nonspousal sex in the past year were less likely to have discussed HIV prevention with their spouses. Findings suggest HIV prevention programs should promote female empowerment and encourage male participation in sexual health discussion.