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Students’ Prior Gendered Conceptions of HIV and AIDS

Grace W. Kimotho, Lilian I. Vikiru


The fight against HIV and AIDS epidemic in Kenya seems to have realized some positive gains as prevalence levels have declined over the years. However, the prevalence level among women is still higher than both the men’s and the national average. This article reports the variations in male and female students’ prior conceptions about sexuality, HIV and AIDS; and how these conceptions are likely to influence their future decisions about sexuality. Might these variations partially offer plausible explanations for the higher HIV and AIDS prevalence among women? The study adopted a qualitative case study approach. Data was collected from secondary school students and their teachers through multiple methods including semi-structured interviews, focused group discussions and questionnaires. The findings show that whereas education is touted as an effective tool in the fight against HIV and AIDS, the students do not seem to internalize information for use in real life decisions about their sexuality. Further, the findings show that the girls seemed to be more conservative and accommodating in their decision making than the boys making them more susceptible to risky sexual behavior, the education received notwithstanding. The boys, on the other hand, seemed to make self-preserving decisions largely influenced by the social norms that tend to favor male domination and superiority. These findings in a way shed a light on one of the reasons why infection prevalence among women tends to be higher despite the many interventions targeting both men and women.


Gender; Sexuality; HIV; AIDS; Education

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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