Changing Attitudes and Beliefs towards HIV/AIDS: The Effect of Differential Exposure to HIV Prevention Programs

Theresa M. Fedor, University of Pennsylvania

A fair amount of pessimism exists concerning the effectiveness of behavioral interventions and education programs in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. This is largely because it is often quite difficult to measure the positive effects of such programs. In this paper, I propose that even in programs that do not find large behavioral changes in response to prevention programs, there may still be unobserved benefits in the form of changing attitudes and beliefs toward HIV and HIV prevention, essential precursors to wide scale behavioral changes and a potential indicator of longer-term program effects. I compare participants and non-participants in a program providing extensive HIV counseling and testing in Malawi. Results suggest that participants are more likely to believe that women have the right to take steps to protect themselves from HIV risk and are also more likely to have realistic assessments of their own HIV risk.

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Presented in Session 163: HIV-AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases