The importance of learning for changing sexual practices in response to HIV/AIDS crisis in Ghana
Amenyah, Augustine Mawuenyega
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The purpose of this study was to understand how adults in Ghana learned to make changes in their sexual practices in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis. The design of this study was qualitative. Ten members of an intact group in Ghana were interviewed regarding how they learned to make changes in their sexual practices. Transcripts of the interviews were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Supplemental analysis was conducted on mass media educational materials employed by stakeholders in HIV/AIDS education in Ghana. Analysis of the data revealed five findings. First, participants adopted three changes in their sexual practices in response to HIV/AIDS: abstinence prior to marriage, limiting the number of sexual partners, and adopting condom use. Second, informal learning approaches provided initial awareness of HIV/AIDS. Third, the initial awareness generated fear of death and social stigma which were catalysts to further learning. Fourth, further learning about HIV/AIDS was facilitated by other individuals and group learning activities. Fifth, cultural and religious factors both encouraged and deterred participants in their decision to adopt changes in their sexual practices. Four conclusions were drawn from the study. First, the fear of death and the social stigma associated with HIV/AIDS catalyze further learning. Second, informal learning approaches facilitate changes in sexual practices. Third, the process of learning to make changes in sexual practices reflects the health belief and the consumer information processing models of health behavior change, and fourth, group support encourages changes in sexual practices.