Culture Health & Sexuality

Published by Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Online ISSN: 1464-5351
Print ISSN: 1369-1058
This paper reports on a study of the relationship of homophobia to HIV/AIDS-related stigma in Jamaica. Ethnography, key informant interviews and focus groups were used to gather data from a sample of 33 male and female adults during the summer of 2003. The sample included health and social service providers, HIV positive men and women, and men and women with same sex partners in urban and rural Jamaica. A strong and consistent relationship between homophobia and HIV/AIDS-related stigma was reported, but the relationship varied according to geographic location, social class, gender, and skin colour (complexion)-to the extent that this coincided with class. Stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS and homosexuality was implicated in low levels of use of HIV testing, treatment and care services and the reluctance of HIV positive people to reveal their serostatus to their sexual partners. Data reveal a pressing need for anti-stigma measures for both homophobia and HIV/AIDS, and for training for health and human service professionals.
In developing countries, HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancy take an enormous toll on women's reproductive health, yet preventive programmes are lacking as married women's risks are frequently underestimated. We examined predictors of married Bangladeshi women's attitudes towards safer-sex negotiation using data on 15,178 currently married women aged 15-49 from the 2011 Bangladesh Demographic Health Survey. Approximately 92% of women believed that a wife's refusal to have sex with her husband is justified if he has an STI. Multilevel logistic regression analysis revealed that the likelihood of a woman holding this belief increased with her autonomy, as measured by the ability to go to a health centre/hospital without another adult, participation in household decision making and rejection of wife beating (p < 0.001). Other significant predictors were knowledge/awareness of STIs (p < 0.05), living in Dhaka division (p < 0.001) and younger age (p < 0.01). Our findings suggest that sexual health education programmes may be more effective if they include strategies to address social norms and cultural practices that limit women's autonomy in society.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is perceived as a major contributor to HIV transmission in Swaziland. This exploratory study aimed to develop a culturally-specific understanding of men's perspectives of IPV. Focus group methods were used to gather information from 45 young urban Swazi men who had undergone medical male circumcision. A thematic analysis was conducted focussing on the manifestations of IPV and socio-cultural and economic factors which underpin, circumstances which trigger and social responses to IPV. The study identified numerous forms of economic, physical, emotional and sexual abuse that study participants perceived men used to control women in Swaziland. Many of these directly increased a woman's risk of HIV infection, including knowingly infecting a woman with HIV and intentionally impregnating a woman, a practice that has not previously been highlighted in the literature. Aspects of Swazi culture that may facilitate these particular forms of abuse are discussed. This study highlights the need for the gender issues which underpin IPV to be addressed in HIV prevention in Swaziland and for the development of an informed understanding of how and why IPV occurs in the Swazi context.
The author candidly presents the major ethical problems he encountered over time in conducting field research on male homosexuality in Mexico from 1968 to now and describes how they were resolved. Some of the research methods used in pioneering studies by Laud Humphreys thirty years ago and by Ralph Bolton more recently are then discussed to exemplify some of the ethical problems researchers may have to resolve while gathering data on male homosexual behaviours in the field. Looking even further back in time, recently revealed hidden qualitative research methods used by Kinsey and his colleagues back in the 1940s are also noted. The final part of the discussion focuses on the role the private sex life of an ethnographer may play in the research design and data collection strategies of a study in the field. Serendipity is revealed to be an important but often hidden factor in the design of ethnographic field studies of human sexual behaviours. When knowledge from an ethnographer's private sex life is used to inform field research on human sexual behaviours, a careful and continuous review must be made with respect to the ethicality of its effect on the research design.
Description of epochs. 
Percentage of articles in which the naming categories were used. 
Name: girl. 
Name: mother. 
Name: patient. 
A key element in cultural and gender power relations surrounding abortion is how women who undergo an abortion are represented in public talk. We analyse how women were named and positioned, and the attendant constructions of abortion, in South African newspaper articles on abortion from 1978 to 2005, a period during which there were radical political and legislative shifts. The name 'woman' was the most frequently used (70% of articles) followed by 'girl/teenager/child' (25%), 'mother' (25%), 'patient' (11%) and 'minor' (6%). The subject positionings enabled by these names were dynamic and complex and were interwoven with the localised, historical politics of abortion. The 'innocent mother' and the bifurcated 'patient' (woman/foetus) positionings were invoked in earlier epochs to promote abortion under medical conditions. The 'dangerous mother' and woman as 'patient' positionings were used more frequently under liberal abortion legislation to oppose and to advocate for abortion, respectively. The positioning of the 'girl/teenager/child' as dependent and vulnerable was used in contradictory ways, both to oppose abortion and to argue for a liberalisation of restrictive legislation, depending on the attendant construction of abortion. The neutral naming of 'woman' was, at times, linked to the liberal imaginary of 'choice'.
This paper examines the intellectual and social origins of racialist homophobia in contemporary Zimbabwean political discourse, exemplified by President Robert Mugabe's anti-homosexual speeches since the mid-1990s. It challenges the notions that such homophobia is either essential to African patriarchy or simple political opportunism. Tracing overt expressions of intolerance towards male-male sexuality back to the colonial period, it focuses on ways in which notions of appropriate, respectable, exclusive heterosexuality within the 'cowboy' culture of White Southern Rhodesia trickled into, or were interpreted in, the African nationalist movement. It concludes that understanding this history could improve efforts to address concerns around sexual health in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the region, particularly silences around same-sex sexuality in HIV/AIDS education and prevention.
Liberal versions of sexuality, which mark South Africa's new democracy, have had a number of highly contradictory consequences for women and men, as old notions of masculinity and male privilege have been destabilized. The transition to democracy has precipitated a crisis of masculinity. Orthodox notions of masculinity are being challenged and new versions of masculinity are emerging in their place. Some men are seeking to be part of a new social order while others are defensively clinging to more familiar routines. Drawing on in-depth interviews with young African working class men, this paper explores new masculinities in contemporary South Africa. It examines how men negotiate their manhood in a period of social turbulence and transition. Masculinity, male sexuality, and the expectations which men have of themselves, each other and women are contested and in crisis.
This paper analyses discussion on a proposed reform to the abortion law in Nicaragua between 1999 and 2002, as a struggle between different actors - politicians, religious leaders, doctors and feminists - over the meaning of abortion, motherhood and sexuality, and ultimately the value of women's lives. It shows how the interplay of gender discourses and political practices shaped the process of discussion: on one hand by making a broad alliance against abortion possible, on the other by highlighting the contradictory role of the women's movement in this discussion, between a dominant leadership and a low mobilizing capacity. The paper argues for the need of an inwards oriented process within the women's movement, that departs from the recognition of the personal issues at stake for women in order to break the silence surrounding abortion, such as prevailing feelings of fear and guilt. This entails recognition of the limits of the liberal feminist claim to 'abortion as a free choice', as a discourse of rights that is disconnected from the everyday life conditions and constraints under which women make choices and develop their notions of rights.
The purpose of this paper is to report on an exploratory content analysis of the portrayal of sexuality, sexual health and disease in select magazines designed for two groups of women: teenagers and women in the 40-50-year-old age category in the USA. The analysis found that magazine portrayal was both similar for the two groups of women and distinctly different. Neither group of magazines focused on women's sexual desire. Both kinds of magazines emphasized that it was women's work and worry to control sexual expression. Teenagers were described as responsible for avoiding sex in order to prevent pregnancy, fearsomely described STIs and untrustworthy male sexual partners. Abstinence was presented as the only viable option for young women. Women in the 40-50-year-old age group were portrayed as responsible for the emotion work and sexual relations linked to their responsibility for maintaining their marriages and fulfilling their tasks of motherhood, especially through the monitoring of the sexuality of their female children. Sex was characterized in terms akin to women's work within the home. Possible explanations for, and consequences of, these presentations of sexuality are discussed.
Chile is one of only four countries in the world where there is no explicit legal exception to prohibitions on abortion, and where the criminalisation of abortion endangers women's health and may be misaligned with public opinion. In this study we explored attitudes towards the legalisation of abortion and differences in levels of support across time. Among Chilean women in 2009 and 2013, we examined: (1) an additive index indicating support for legalisation of abortion in several situations and (2) support for each situation separately. We investigated the demographic characteristics associated with support for legalisation using multivariate regression. Over 70% of women supported the legalisation of abortion in cases of risk to the woman's life, rape and foetal malformation, and support was higher in 2013 compared to 2009 (β = 0.28; 95% CI: 0.12, 0.44). Women with increasing education and those attending church services less frequently were more likely to support the legalisation of abortion (β = 0.27; 95% CI: 0.11, 0.43), while those affiliated to a religion other than Catholicism (β = - 0.32; 95% CI: - 0.48, - 0.16) were less likely to do so. Our study is the first to examine public opinions on abortion in Chile and differences in levels of support across time periods. Results indicate that current policies may not reflect trends in public opinion.
This paper explores notions of fatherhood and their linkages to fertility desires and intentions among a treatment-naïve cohort of Xhosa-speaking male key informants living with HIV, aged 20-53 in Cape Town, South Africa. Analysis is based on an initial 27, and 20 follow-up, interviews with men who were part of a study that assessed the acceptability of safer conception and alternative parenting strategies among men and women newly diagnosed with HIV to inform an intervention. Grounded theory analysis revealed themes related to the cultural imperative of biologically-connected fatherhood. Certain safer-conception strategies aimed at minimising the risk of HIV transmission were perceived as threats to paternity. These findings suggest that understanding of social and cultural beliefs related to notions of paternity and fatherhood may inform the implementation of acceptable safer-conception options for HIV-positive men and their infected and uninfected female partners in a high-HIV prevalence, low-resource setting.
In most societies, heterosexuality is the dominant way of expressing sexuality and masculinity and those men outside of it are stigmatised and discriminated against. This paper explores the sexual lives of men who have sex with men and the personal and social conflicts that arise as they attempt to both live up to societal expectations and manage their sexual desires. It critically explores how an overriding heteronormativity structures and influences men's perception and understanding of sexuality and masculinity/femininity. The paper draws on data from 24 in-depth/life history interviews, one focus group discussion and ethnographic observation conducted between July 2006 and June 2007. The study reveals that powerful and dominating beliefs about heteronormativity and masculinity result in men who have sex with men dealing with a number of issues of personal conflict and contradiction resulting in uncertainty, resentment, ambivalence, worry and discomfort. Heteronormativity or the expectations of parents, community and society at large is far more influential on the sexuality of men who have sex with men than their own individual desires and needs. The paper concludes that there is little room for individuality for Ethiopian men who have sex with men with their sexual bodies 'belonging' to parents, families and to society at large.
This paper investigates how current transformations in HIV prevention in the USA are intensifying a logic of viral containment rooted in biomedicine and behavioural science, in order to curb the recent rise in new HIV infections, predominantly among young African-American 'men who have sex with men'. Based on fieldwork in Baltimore, I examine how this paradigm shift is translated into concrete prevention activities that focus on HIV testing and treatment. By attending to the affective labour performed by members of Baltimore's Ballroom scene - a kinship system of black queer youth structured around competitive dance and performance - I show how the emergent 'Test & Treat' approach becomes a polyvalent object that attracts a host of optimistic investments in collective and individual prosperity, which nevertheless threaten to remain unrequited. Finally, I argue that the current move towards a biomedically mediated model of viral management depoliticises the struggle against HIV by suggesting that we can treat our way out of an epidemic that in fact remains intricately interwoven with racialised violence against the queer, the poor and the otherwise dispossessed.
ABC-based HIV-prevention programmes have been widely employed in northern Tanzanian wildlife conservation settings in an attempt to (re)shape the sexual behaviours of conservation actors. Utilising findings from 66 semi-structured interviews conducted in 2009-2010, this paper examines ABC prevention as a form of Foucauldian governmentality - circulating technologies of power that mobilise disciplinary technologies and attempt to transform such efforts into technologies of the self - and explores how individuals understand and respond to attempts to govern their behaviour. ABC regimes attempt to rework subjectivity, positioning HIV-related behaviours within a risk-based neoliberal rationality. However, efforts to use ABC as a technology to govern populations and individual bodies are largely incommensurate with existing Tanzanian sociocultural formations, including economic and gendered inequalities, and local understandings of sexuality. The language research participants used to talk about ABC and the justifications they offered for non-compliance illuminate this discrepancy. Data reveal that the recipients of ABC campaigns are active producers of understandings that work for them in their lives, but may not produce the behavioural shifts envisioned by programme goals. These findings corroborate previous research, which questions the continued plausibility of ABC as a stand-alone HIV- prevention framework.
People living with HIV who are taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) are increasingly involved in 'positive prevention' initiatives. These are generally oriented to promoting abstinence, 'being faithful' (partner reduction) and condom use (ABC). We conducted a longitudinal qualitative study with people living with HIV using ART, who were provided with adherence education and counselling support by a Ugandan nongovernmental organisation, The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO). Forty people were selected sequentially as they started ART, stratified by sex, ART delivery mode (clinic- or home-based) and HIV progression stage (early or advanced) and interviewed at enrolment and at 3, 6, 18 and 30 months. At initiation of ART, participants agreed to follow TASO's positive-living recommendations. Initially poor health prevented sexual activity. As health improved, participants prioritised resuming economic production and support for their children. With further improvements, sexual desire resurfaced and people in relationships cemented these via sex. The findings highlight the limitations of HIV prevention based on medical care/personal counselling. As ART leads to health improvements, social norms, economic needs and sexual desires increasingly influence sexual behaviour. Positive prevention interventions need to seek to modify normative and economic influences on sexual behaviour, as well as to provide alternatives to condoms.
In this qualitative study, we explore how lesbian recipients view and experience the selection of their anonymous sperm donor. The study was conducted in Belgium, where fertility centres follow a legal protocol that severely restricts personal choice in donor selection. While previous studies have shown that recipients want greater control and input in the selection of their sperm donor, this was not a main concern for most women in the present study. They generally acknowledged their lack of control on the selection outcome and accepted this as part and parcel of an anonymous donation policy that provides an opportunity to have a child. They actively and passively downplayed initial concerns about the donor selection procedure and felt they did not have or need a right to further control over the donor selection. In adopting this 'subordinate' position, they felt they should trust the hospital, which they hoped would fulfil rather high screening standards. Those who did want more choice were nuanced and careful about their motivations: they focused on selecting traits that would facilitate normal child development or increase family coherence. The findings shed light on how these patients perceive their position in this third-party reproduction setting.
While Australian Aboriginal conceptions of health have been described as holistic and collective, contemporary approaches to health services and health research are often premised on the rational, reflexive subject of neoliberal discourse. This paper considers how neoliberal conceptions of health and subjectivity arose and were negotiated in the context of a qualitative research project on Aboriginal experiences of HIV in Western Australia. Questions about 'coping', 'future' and 'life changes' stood out in the interview transcripts as examples of neoliberal discourse. This paper explores the reflexive, contextual and deflective responses to these questions and suggests they demonstrate how neoliberal discourse can produce the impression that 'everything is okay' despite the difficult social and economic conditions of everyday life experienced by many Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people with a chronic and serious infectious disease such as HIV may utilise the language of self-management and responsibility when talking about HIV with a non-Aboriginal researcher for pragmatic and utilitarian reasons. In this way, the responses of the Aboriginal participants in this study provide a valuable opportunity for exploring new approaches to both research methodology and health service delivery.
There exists an enormous gulf between the aspirations of South Africa's abortion legislation--among the most liberal in the world--and its implementation. One weakness in the provision of abortion services in South Africa is the absence of comprehensive abortion counselling services. On the face of it, the idea that counselling ought, as a matter of course, to be a significant component of a country's termination of pregnancy service provision, seems both straightforwardly sensible and politically innocent. This paper describes how abortion counselling has historically, in many different contexts, been saturated with questionable assumptions about women and their bodies. Counselling has more often than not been deployed, either as the formal policy of states or through informal mechanisms, as a means of curbing the right to abortion rather than deepening the meaning of that right. Differing approaches to counselling emerge as a reflection of contestations over reproductive and gender politics. Specifying an appropriate model for the provision of state-sponsored abortion counselling in the public health sector of a secular constitutional state provokes more of a hornet's nest of dilemmas than is sometimes supposed.
This paper offers an analysis of women's performance of unsafe abortion in rural Ghana despite significant cultural sanctions that forbid the practice. Findings demonstrate how women in the study balance sanctions inherent in traditional belief structures against their own immediate physical and social best interests. In rural Ghana, a woman's body is not always her own to do with as she would wish. It is also a social body, which is embedded in multiple sets of relationships and subject to social regulation. Traditional authority over a woman's body belongs not only to the community elders in the immediate physical environment of the village but also extends beyond time and space to immaterial ancestral persons who watch over the actions and behaviours of those on earth. Authority resides also with Mawu, the Ewe God, who is offended by the practice of abortion. Data from this study reveal that the performance of unsafe abortion in this Ewe community is a desperate act in which the women must not only risk their physical lives, but must also step outside the boundaries of ideological cultural conformity to traditional values and carry the risk of their actions even into life after death.
Recently, the hypothesis that state-level political context influences individuals' cultural values - the 'red states v. blue states' hypothesis - has been invoked to explain the hyper-polarisation of politics in the USA. To test this hypothesis, we examined individuals' knowledge about abortion in relation to the political context of their current state of residence. Drawing from an internet-survey of 586 reproductive-age individuals in the USA, we assessed two types of abortion knowledge: health-related and legality. We found that state-level conservatism does not modify the existing relationships between individual predictors and each of the two types of abortion knowledge. Hence, our findings do not support the 'red states' versus 'blue states' hypothesis. Additionally, we find that knowledge about abortion's health effects in the USA is low: 7% of our sample thought abortion before 12 weeks gestation was illegal.
Abortion stigma is widely acknowledged in many countries, but poorly theorised. Although media accounts often evoke abortion stigma as a universal social fact, we suggest that the social production of abortion stigma is profoundly local. Abortion stigma is neither natural nor 'essential' and relies upon power disparities and inequalities for its formation. In this paper, we identify social and political processes that favour the emergence, perpetuation and normalisation of abortion stigma. We hypothesise that abortion transgresses three cherished 'feminine' ideals: perpetual fecundity; the inevitability of motherhood; and instinctive nurturing. We offer examples of how abortion stigma is generated through popular and medical discourses, government and political structures, institutions, communities and via personal interactions. Finally, we propose a research agenda to reveal, measure and map the diverse manifestations of abortion stigma and its impact on women's health.
Percentage of respondents choosing abortion as preferred pregnancy outcome for a woman, in vignette scenarios about a hypothetical couple deciding how to proceed with a pregnancy in differing circumstances. 
Demographic and reproductive health characteristics of study sample, Zambia and Nigeria, 2009-2010. 
Percentage of respondents reporting disagreement with individual attitudinal items regarding continued childbearing among HIV-positive women. 
Percentage of respondents reporting disagreement with individual attitudinal items regarding abortion among HIV-positive women. 
Although stigma towards HIV-positive women for both continuing and terminating a pregnancy has been documented, to date few studies have examined relative stigma towards one outcome versus the other. This study seeks to describe community attitudes towards each of two possible elective outcomes of an HIV-positive woman's pregnancy - induced abortion or birth - to determine which garners more stigma and document characteristics of community members associated with stigmatising attitudes towards each outcome. Data come from community-based interviews with reproductive-aged men and women, 2401 in Zambia and 2452 in Nigeria. Bivariate and multivariate analyses revealed that respondents from both countries overwhelmingly favoured continued childbearing for HIV-positive pregnant women, but support for induced abortion was slightly higher in scenarios in which anti-retroviral therapy (ART) was unavailable. Zambian respondents held more stigmatising attitudes towards abortion for HIV-positive women than did Nigerian respondents. Women held more stigmatising attitudes towards abortion for HIV-positive women than men, particularly in Zambia. From a sexual and reproductive health and rights perspective, efforts to assist HIV-positive women in preventing unintended pregnancy and to support them in their pregnancy decisions when they do become pregnant should be encouraged in order to combat the social stigma documented in this paper.
Sex-selective abortion is the major direct cause of the severe imbalance in the sex ratio at birth - contributing to the phenomenon of over 100 million 'missing' females worldwide and 40 million in China alone. Internationally as well as in China, moral condemnation and legal prohibition constitute the mainstream and official position on sex-selective abortion. This paper characterises the dominant Chinese approach to the issue as state-centred and coercion-oriented. Drawing upon case study material, the paper discusses eight major problems arising from coercive state intervention in sex-selective abortion: neglect of reproductive liberty and reproductive rights; the hidden dangers of state power; inconsistency with existing abortion policies; practical ineffectiveness; underestimating the costs and resistance involved; simplifying and misrepresenting the key issues; the lack of sufficient public discussion; and ignoring the moral and political principles established by traditional Chinese thought. To avoid a solution that is worse than the problem itself, alternative social programmes that are focused on women, community-oriented and voluntary in nature need to be developed.
Across the world, childbearing among HIV-positive women is a socially controversial issue. This paper derives from a larger research project that investigated reproductive decisions among HIV-positive women in Quang Ninh, a northern province of Vietnam. The paper focuses on 13 women who had an abortion after being diagnosed as HIV-positive, exploring their reflections, concerns and dilemmas. The results show that the HIV-positive pregnant women sought to balance their desires for a child with their worries of being unable to fulfill their responsibilities as mothers. Even while strongly desiring to become mothers, women in this study opted to terminate their pregnancies out of fear that they could not care adequately for the child they expected. These results indicate that when providing reproductive health counselling and support for HIV-positive women and their families, it is essential to take into account the socio-cultural factors that shape women's reproductive options.
This study explores students' narratives and discourses about adolescent pregnancy and abortion elicited via internet-based open-ended questions posed in response to a cartoon vignette. We report on content analysis of recommendations and strategies for how to manage the unplanned pregnancy of a fictional young couple and in their own personal lives. The responses of 614 young people were analysed. Strategies vary widely. They include giving birth, adoption, running away, abortion, denial, and postponement until discovery. Young people were also queried about unplanned pregnancy resolution among their peers. Discourse analysis reveals competing social scripts on abortion. Florid condemnation of abortion acts in the hypothetical cases contrasts with more frank and sober description of peers' real life abortion behaviour. Students' language is compared with that found in official curricula. The rhetorical devices, moralizing social scripts and dubious health claims about abortion in students' online narratives mirror the tenor and content of their academic curricula as well as Kenyan media presentation of the issue. The need for factual information, dispassionate dialogue and improved contraceptive access is considerable.
Pre-abortion counselling has a role in promoting safe sex practices and in preventing repeated unplanned pregnancies and repeated abortions among abortion-seeking women. Such counselling is essential in Vietnam, especially given the common use of abortion. Arguably, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the delivery of pre-abortion counselling is more urgent for young women, who have historically been ignored by State reproductive health initiatives and are increasingly exposed to transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unplanned pregnancies and abortion. This paper charts urban Vietnamese service providers' discourses in pre-abortion counselling specific for reducing risks of additional unwanted pregnancies, repeat abortion and STI/HIV transmission among young Vietnamese women. Thirteen providers working in counselling delivery, management and programme-planning at the Reproductive Health Care Centre of Ho Chi Minh City participated in this study. Through qualitative interviews, this paper elicits a range of provider attitudes, considerations and approaches in pre-abortion counselling and presents these discourses using participant anecdotes. Demonstrated among participant responses were five key pre-abortion counselling phases for promoting effective family planning among young women. Topics covered in these counselling phases included abortion complications, post-abortion fertility return, contraception, behaviour change and STI/HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health basics (SRH). The service provider discourses gleaned from this study are foundational for further research and development of best practice guidelines in pre-abortion counselling.
Summary of results from semi-structured interviews with 25 currently or previously pregnant women who were receiving HIV/AIDS care at the only Reference Centre for HIV/AIDS in Salvador, Brazil. *Many participants cited several reasons, reasons are thus non-exclusive within categories. 
The ways in which partners expressed their personal opinions and desires for continuing or terminating a pregnancy ranged from supportive to coercive. 
Research on pregnancy termination largely assumes HIV status is the only reason why HIV-positive women contemplate abortion. As antiretroviral treatment (ART) becomes increasingly available and women are living longer, healthier lives, the time has come to consider the influence of other factors on HIV-positive women's reproductive decision-making. Because ART has been free and universally available to Brazilians for more than two decades, Brazil provides a unique context in which to explore these issues. A total of 25 semi-structured interviews exploring women's pregnancy termination decision-making were conducted with women receiving care at the Reference Centre for HIV/AIDS in Salvador, Brazil. Interviews were transcribed, translated into English and coded for analysis. HIV played different roles in women's decision-making. In all, 13 HIV-positive women did not consider terminating their pregnancy. Influential factors described by those who did consider terminating their pregnancy included fear of HIV transmission, fear of HIV-related stigma, family size, economic constraints, partner and provider influence, as well as lack of access to pregnancy termination services and abortifacients. For some HIV-positive women in Brazil, HIV can be the only reason to consider terminating a pregnancy, but other factors are significant. A thorough understanding of all variables affecting reproductive decision-making is necessary for enhancing services and policies and better meeting the needs and rights of HIV-positive women.
Research was conducted with 36 women living with HIV in Cape Town, South Africa, regarding their decision-making about, and experiences with, abortion of unwanted pregnancies in the public health sector. Abortion intentions and decisions were explored by investigating influencing factors; knowledge of abortion policy and public health sector services; and abortion perceptions and experiences. Findings reveal that many women face censure both for becoming pregnant and terminating a pregnancy, including by family, partners, community members and healthcare providers. Data suggest that abortion may be more stigmatised than HIV despite South Africa's liberal abortion law. Generally, however, study participants were satisfied with the abortion care received. Most would advise women living with HIV to think carefully about abortion, but to make a decision in their own best interests, including only seeking care early in pregnancy from an accredited clinic. Study implications include a need to integrate information and counselling on safe legal abortion within sexual and reproductive health services, especially in efforts to integrate sexual and reproductive health into HIV care, and to forge greater linkages between HIV and abortion services more generally to ensure continuity in follow-up of care for women.
While several studies have documented the prevalence of unprotected pre-marital sex among young people in India, little work has explored one of its likely consequences, unintended pregnancy and abortion. This paper examines the experiences of 26 unmarried young abortion-seekers (aged 15-24) interviewed in depth as part of a larger study of unmarried abortion-seekers at clinics run by an NGO in Bihar and Jharkhand. Findings reveal that recognition of the unintended pregnancy was delayed for many and many who suspected so further delayed acknowledging it. Once recognised, most confided in the partner and, for the most part, partners were supportive; a significant minority, including those who had experienced forced sex, did not have partner support and delayed the abortion until the second trimester of pregnancy. Family support was absent in most cases; where provided, it was largely to protect the family reputation. Finally, unsuccessful attempts to terminate the pregnancy were made by several young women, often with the help of partners or family member. Findings call for programmes for young women and men, their potential partners, parents and families and the health system that will collectively enable unmarried young women to obtain safe abortions in a supportive environment.
Access to abortion remains a controversial issue worldwide. In Ireland, both north and south, legal restrictions have resulted in thousands of women travelling to England and Wales and further afield to obtain abortions in the last decade alone, while others purchase the 'abortion pill' from Internet sources. This paper considers the socio-legal context in both jurisdictions, the data on those travelling to access abortion and the barriers to legal reform. It argues that moral conservatism in Ireland, north and south, has contributed to the restricted access to abortion, impacting on the experience of thousands of women, resulting in these individuals becoming 'abortion tourists'.
In contemporary Ethiopia, abortion decision-making is a challenging process involving moral and/or religious dilemmas, as well as considerations of health and safety. Amidst widespread condemnation of female premarital sex and clear moral sanction against induced abortion, young Ethiopian women are nevertheless sexually active and induced abortions are still sought and performed, with the potential for grave physical harm and social stigmatization. This paper examines young unmarried Ethiopian women's narratives of abortion decision-making. In particular, it identifies and explores the operations of a particular discursive shape from within in such narratives, here described as The tale of the hearts. Analysing The tale of the hearts as a decision-making resource, it is argued, allows us to explore the particular, local, historical and cultural character of Ethiopian women's abortion decision-making dilemmas and the culturally available resources contributing to their resolution.
There is an emerging global discourse on female selective abortion (FSA) as several Asian countries witness an increasing imbalance in their sex ratios in favour of boys. While there is an attendant increase in demographic and social surveys on the issue, little is understood about FSA as either a desired or contested practice of family making in the contexts in which it is practiced. Drawing on the accounts of feminists, doctors and lower, middle-class Hindu and Muslim women and their families in Rajasthan, Northern India, the paper explores differing perceptions and attitudes to FSA in the region. Focusing on the agency of pregnant women who resort to FSA, the paper suggests that gender inequality and marriage anxieties shape especially lower-middle-class women's engagement with reproductive technologies, including those of sex selection. The paper also concludes that the decisions of both Hindu and Muslim lower-middle-class women to abort female babies is informed by their shared, pragmatic understanding of the economic realities of gender discrimination and of their social obligation as wives to reproduce a particular quality of patriarchal family.
Contraceptive use before and after abortion, by age. 
This paper analyses the impact of high quality, user-friendly, comprehensive sliding-scale post-abortion services on clients' uptake of contraception in a Kenyan town. Data were drawn from detailed physician records in a private clinic that served 1080 post-abortion clients in 2006. All clients received confidential family planning counselling and were offered a complete range of contraceptives at no additional cost. One quarter of clients were below age 19. Prior to the abortion, no client aged 10-18 years reported having used contraception, as compared to 60% of clients aged 27-46 years. After the abortion and family planning counselling session, only 6% of clients aged 10-18 chose a method, as compared to 96% of clients aged 27-46, even though contraception was free, the provider strongly promoted family planning to everyone and all clients had just experienced an unwanted pregnancy. Significant predictors of contraceptive uptake post-abortion were: having a child, a previous termination, prior contraceptive use and being older than 21. These findings suggest that availability, affordability and youth-friendliness are not sufficient to overcome psycho-social barriers to contraceptive use for sexually-active young people in Kenya. To reduce unwanted pregnancies, more attention may be needed to developing youth-friendly communities that support responsible sexuality among adolescents.
Discursive constructions of abortion are embedded in the social and gendered power relations of a particular socio-historical space. As part of research on public discourses concerning abortion in South Africa where there has been a radical liberalisation of abortion legislation, we collected data from male group discussions about a vignette concerning abortion, and newspaper articles written by men about abortion. Our analysis revealed how discourses of equality, support and rights may be used by men to subtly undermine women's reproductive right to 'choose' an abortion. Within an Equal Partnership discourse, abortion, paired with the assumption of foetal personhood, was equated with violating an equal heterosexual partnership and a man's patriarchal duty to protect a child. A New Man discourse, which positions men as supportive of women, was paired with the assumption of men as rational and women as irrational in decision-making, to allow for the possibility of men dissuading women from terminating a pregnancy. A Rights discourse was invoked to suggest that abortion violates men's paternal rights.
An estimated 60% of all adolescent pregnancies in low-income countries are unintended. The present study was carried out at the university hospital in Lusaka, Zambia over a four-month period in 2005. The aim was to explore experiences of pregnancy loss and to ascertain the girl's contraceptive knowledge and use and their partner's involvement in the pregnancy/abortion. Eighty-seven girls aged 13-19 years admitted to hospital for incomplete abortions were interviewed. Of these girls, 53 (61%) had had a spontaneous abortion and 34 (39%) had undergone an unsafe induced abortion. Significantly more girls with an unsafe induced abortion were single, students, had completed more years in school and were in less stable relationships. Girls' overall contraceptive knowledge and use was low and most pregnancies were unplanned. Partners played a decisive role in terminating pregnancy through unsafe induced abortion. Traditional healers, girls themselves and health professionals were the main abortion providers. Young women's health risks due to unprotected sex and lack of contraceptive services should urgently be addressed. The existence of the abortion law and access to emergency contraception should be better publicized in Zambia.
Despite recent evidence demonstrating that lesbian and bisexual women are at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), there is a common perception that STIs cannot be transmitted between women. This paper reports on a study in which a self-report questionnaire, completed by over 300 lesbian and bisexual women and a comparison group of heterosexual women, was undertaken to determine lesbian and bisexual women's levels of knowledge about the human papillomavirus (HPV) and their attitudes toward the HPV vaccine and cervical smear testing. Alongside this, a series of in-depth interviews with lesbian and bisexual women explored how they perceive their level of HPV risk, the reasons why they do or do not feel at risk and how they manage their sexual health in relation to their lesbian or bisexual identity. The study concludes that lesbians generally feel at low risk for STIs because they are excluded from dominant sexual scripts that inform the negotiation of safer sex practice. Lesbians are unlikely to engage with sexual health promotion targeted toward gay men or heterosexual women, yet lesbian-specific sexual health promotion does not adequately construct an alternate discourse on safer sex that lesbians can relate to their own sexual practice.
This study explored the role and shaping of postpartum abstinence on young mothers' sexual conduct and vulnerability to HIV infection in a rural setting of Northern Ghana. Young mothers in their mid-twenties to early-thirties and men married to young mothers were purposively selected for repeated semi-structured interviews. The interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed and Nvivo software was used to organize and manage the data for analysis. In this setting, postpartum abstinence was perceived as a risk period for STIs due to increased male infidelity during this period. Yet, women's urge to take action to mitigate the risk of STIs is compromised by childbearing obligations. More assertive women, however, employ crafty and nifty protective strategies including the masturbation of their male partner when they perceive themselves at risk. We conclude that the advent of HIV and AIDS, coupled with improved access to sexual and reproductive health information and modern contraception, has eroded the logic of observance of postpartum abstinence in the Kassena-Nankana District of Northern Ghana. Efforts should be made to facilitate easy access to modern contraceptives and HIV protection by rural women.
Despite the prominence of abstinence promotion in HIV prevention for young Africans, there is little documentation concerning its reception and interpretation. With the purpose of informing programmatic practice, we examined how young Africans from six countries with contrasting HIV prevalence rates make sense of abstinence. 'Scenarios from Africa' scriptwriting contests invite young people to contribute ideas for short films about HIV. Using thematic narrative-based approaches, we analyzed a stratified random sample of these narratives written in 2005 by young women and men aged 10-24 years from Senegal, Burkina Faso, South-East Nigeria, Kenya, Namibia and Swaziland. Abstinence was considerably more prominent as a theme in the samples from SE Nigeria, Kenya and Swaziland. It was articulated in relation to conservative Christian sexual morality and in opposition to condom use with particular intensity in SE Nigeria, with stigmatising implications for non-abstainers. However, cross-national commonalities were more striking than differences. Examples of non-stigmatising pro-abstinence messaging highlighted the appeal of discourses of romantic love and future plans across countries and demographic characteristics. The analysis yielded contextual understanding, youth-driven ideas and recommendations to inform comprehensive HIV-prevention efforts.
Recommendations for professional development. 
Integrating HIV prevention into substance abuse counselling is recommended to ameliorate the health outcomes of men who have sex with men. However, culture-based countertransferences (CBCs) may hamper this effort. Using a case illustration, this paper will explain the manifestation of CBCs held among substance abuse counsellors and how they hinder counsellors' work with men who have sex with men. The following CBCs will be explored: distancing, topic avoidance, heteronormativity, assumptions and denying client strengths. These CBCs allow counsellors to avoid discussions about sexual practices and curtail HIV prevention counselling, while undermining the counsellor-client relationship. Based on the empirical literature on HIV and substance abuse prevention with men who have sex with men, we provide recommendations to help counsellors overcome CBCs and integrate HIV prevention consistently with men who are in treatment for substance abuse.
This study describes the experiences of 10 young feminised men in Pakistan. They face high levels of stigma, violence and sexual abuse. The average age of first sex was 11 years old and all reported having been been raped during childhood and early adolescence, often several times. While some mothers and siblings were quietly supportive, young feminised men often end up running away from home, finding support as a member of a hijra dera, a 'pseudo-household' led by an older feminised man or guru, in which they find employment as dancers or sex workers. After their entry into sex work there is little or no opportunity to use condoms. The hijra dera offer an important entry point for improved social support and sexual health programmes, including efforts to ensure young feminised men postpone their sexual debut and/or improve their sexual health, retain access to education, explore alternative forms of employment and improve access to health care.
Adult men of different ethnic backgrounds who experienced childhood sexual abuse (CSA) may vary in their reports of the psychological and behavioural impact of CSA on their lives. Empirical studies rarely examine the impact of race/ethnicity or cultural context on the psychological and behavioural struggles of adult male CSA survivors. This study utilised qualitative content analysis to examine the reported CSA-related psychological and behavioural challenges of 150 US men, with equal numbers of Blacks, Latinos and non-Latino Whites. Interview data revealed some ethnic differences: Black men more frequently denied having present day adverse effects than other groups. However, Black men who did report negative consequences of CSA discussed difficulties with substance use and hyper-sexualised behaviour more often than other ethnicities. Latino men reported anger, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, flashbacks and communication problems more often than the other two groups. Black and Latino men also discussed guilt/shame issues and sexual identity concerns more often than Whites did. In contrast, White men more frequently discussed issues related to low self-esteem, loneliness and isolation. These findings suggest that ethnically diverse men may respond differently to CSA experiences and that considerations need to be taken into account when providing healthcare to men with CSA histories.
As part of a study on the sexual health and social protection needs of men who have sex with men in Pakistan, 11 young men employed as assistants to truckers ('truck cleaners') who acknowledged having had sexual experiences with men, were interviewed and their social background and sexual initiation and their subsequent sexual lives were explored. For most truck cleaners, the first instance of sexual contact between the truck cleaner and the driver was forced and happened at an early age. Sex with other men, as well as with women (including sex workers) was widely reported. Drug and alcohol use was common. There is strong potential for HIV and STIs to spread through these sexual networks. Measures to prevent young men from entering into a career as truck helpers should be considered, as well as interventions to improve the health and social situation of those already employed.
Intimate partner violence is a worldwide problem. South Africa has one of the highest rates of intimate partner violence and therefore requires effective and sustainable approaches to prevention and response. For abused women, the process of leaving an intimate partner is difficult and mired in an abundance of complex factors that influence decision making. This qualitative study explored women's experiences of leaving abusive homes and relationships and the critical factors that pushed them to leave. In-depth interviews were conducted with 11 adult women who had experienced partner abuse and were residents of a shelter in Gauteng Province, South Africa. All interviews were audio-taped with consent, translated where necessary and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis of interviews was carried out. Two themes emerged as being instrumental to leaving: 'a phase of change' and the 'process of leaving the abusive relationship'. Leaving an abusive relationship was found to be a complex process that did not necessarily imply the end of the relationship and it reflected women's changing attitudes over time. Awareness of shelters and social support was found to be critical in facilitating departure from abusive relationships.
In this paper, I reflect on the notion of 'African men' as it is employed in global health scholarship and disentangle the way the idea is used as a generative concept. I explore how this notion circulates and gets modified, adapted and reproduced by scholars, on the one hand, and by various groups of men in Africa, on the other. I argue that the use of the idea of African men as an a priori category in scholarly imagination and practice presents us with stereotypes that impede much research. I then briefly connect with what has been analysed as the hegemonic discourse on Africa as the paradigm of difference, and the history of local modes of self-presentation as Africans. In Kenya, among both men and women, the use of the phrase African men as a natural category of sexual agents has been used to explain or justify men's multiple sexual relations. Yet if we look more closely at men's experiences, it becomes clear how men are caught up in conflicting discourses of masculinity. I conclude that we need to analyse gender as a performative quality that is both constructed and meaningful.
Participants' pregnancy experiences. 
Communities have different norms and expectations regarding pregnancy and parenting and these norms affect individual reproductive behaviour. Using grounded theory, this paper examines sexual and gender norms that have implications for pregnancy, mothering and parenting within a community of young Black lesbians. In this community, pregnancy and parenting experiences affect participants' sexual and gender identities through the community discourse on appropriate motherhood. Identity is negotiated and contested vis-à-vis pregnancy and parenting. Using social categorisation theory as a lens into participants' pregnancy and parenting experiences, we show how normative discourse in this community ties appropriate reproductive behaviour to gendered bodies and, by extension, how pregnancy and parenting have implications for participants' developing gender identities.
Top-cited authors
Matthew Chersich
  • University of the Witwatersrand
Anuradha Kumar
Leila Hessini
Ellen M H Mitchell
  • Institute of Tropical Medicine
Shari L Dworkin
  • University of California, San Francisco