Preventing HIV by providing support for orphan girls to stay in school: does religion matter?

The purpose of this paper is to examine the influence of religion on HIV-related behaviors and attitudes among orphan adolescent girls participating in a randomized controlled prevention trial in rural Zimbabwe

Denise D. Hallfors


Scholarcy highlights

  • Religion is a powerful force in southern Africa, affecting all aspects of daily life and health, among rural women
  • Young rural Apostolic women in the Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey were nearly four times as likely to marry as teenagers compared to Protestants, and marriage doubled the likelihood of HIV infection
  • Our combined analyses suggest that affiliation with the Apostolic Church greatly increases the likelihood of early marriage, and early marriage increases the risk of HIV infection for rural young women
  • In our clinical trial sample, Apostolic faith membership increased the risk of early marriage by more than four times that of the Methodist Church, a denomination of Christian Protestantism that is common in our study area
  • The ZDHS data estimated that rural Apostolic young women were almost four times as likely to marry during adolescence compared to Protestants, and that there is a strong association between early marriage and HIV infection among these two groups of rural young women
  • Contrary to the previous research study findings, the ZDHS offers little evidence to suggest that Apostolic restrictions against sex outside marriage protect young women from HIV infection, compared to Protestant denominations

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