• Yaw Adjei-Amoako Department of Geography, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim Norway
Keywords: HIV vulnerability, Women, Religion, Ghana, Sub-Saharan Africa


HIV continues to exact its toll in sub-Saharan African countries, including Ghana, distorting their demographics, and weakening their economies and institutions. Little is known about the role that religious denominations play in the spread or control of HIV in Ghana. Using semi-structured interviews and focus group discussion data collected in various Christian congregations in rural and urban areas in Ghana, this paper explores how women‟s vulnerability to HIV are mediated by type of denomination – „mainstream‟ (Methodist and Catholic churches) or „healing‟ (Pentecost and Assembly of God churches).


[ 1 ] UNAIDS. Global Report: UNAIDS report on the global epidemic 2013; New York: 2013.http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2013/gr2013/UNAIDS_Global_Report_2013_en.pdf. Retrieved 23 August 2014.

[ 2 ] Craddock S. Disease, social identity, and risk: Rethinking the geography of AIDS. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 2000; 25: 153-168.

[ 3 ] Aase A, Agyei-Mensah S. HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa: Geographical perspectives. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift-Norwegian Journal of Geography. 2005; 59 (1): 1-5.

[ 4 ] Ezekiel MJ, Talle A, Mnyika KS, Klepp, KI. Social geography of risk: The role of time, place and antiretroviral therapy in conceptions of the sexual risk of HIV in Kahe, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift-Norwegian Journal of Geography. 2010; 64: 48-57.

[ 5 ] Takyi BK. Religion and women’s health in Ghana: Insights into HIV/AIDS preventive and protective behaviour. Social Science & Medicine. 2003; 56 (6): 1221–1235.

[ 6 ] Campbell C, Skoval M, Gibbs A. Creating Social Spaces to Tackle AIDS-Related Stigma: Reviewing the Role of Church Groups in Sub-Saharan Africa. AIDS Behaviour. 2011; 15(6): 1204-1219.

[ 7 ] Agadjanian V. Gender, religious involvement, and HIV/AIDS prevention in Mozambique. Social Science & Medicine. 2005; 61: 1529–1539.

[ 8 ] Zou J, Yamanaka Y, John M, Watt M, Ostermann J, Thielman N. Religion and HIV in Tanzania: influence of religious beliefs on HIV stigma, disclosure, and treatment attitudes. BMC Public Health. 2009; 9(1): 75. [PubMed: 19261186]

[ 9 ] Ghana AIDS Commission. Country AIDS Response Progress Report-Ghana January 2012-December 2013. Ghana AIDS Commission; Accra. 2014.

[ 10 ] Toefy Y. HIV/AIDS, Religion and Spirituality. In Rohleder, P.; Swartz, L.; Kalichman, SC.; Simbayi, LC., eds. HIV/AIDS in South Africa 25 Years On: Psychosocial Perspectives. New York: Springer; 2009. p. 237-251.

[ 11 ] Gyimah SO, Takyi B, Tenkorang EY. “Denominational affiliation and fertility behavior in an African context: An examination of couple data from Ghana”. Journal of Biosocial Science. 2008; 40: 445–458.

[ 12 ] Agha S, Hutchinson P, Kusanthan T. The effects of religious affiliation on sexual initiation and condom use in Zambia. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2006; 38(5): 550–5. [PubMed: 16635766]

[ 13 ] Crissman HP, Adanu RM, Harlow SD. Women’s Sexual Empowerment and Contraceptive Use in Ghana. Studies in Family Planning. 2012; 43(3): 201-212.

[ 14 ] Aryee AF. Socio-cultural policies and programmes for efficient family planning in Africa. In RIPS, Development of Family Planning Policies and Programmes in Africa. Accra: University of Ghana; 1989.

[ 15 ] Marshall M, Taylor N. Tackling HIV and AIDS with faith-based communities: learning from attitudes on gender relations and sexual rights within local evangelical churches in Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Gender & Development. 2006; 14 (3):


[ 16 ] Trinitapoli J. Religious teachings and influences on the ABCs of HIV prevention in Malawi. Social Science & Medicine. 2009; 69 (2): 199-209.

[ 17 ] Baah-Odoom D. The link between social representations of HIV/AIDS and sexual behaviour amongst young people in Ghana and the U.K. Ph.D. thesis; University of Birmingham. 2010. http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/493/. Retrieved 8 March 2010.

[ 18 ] Kagimu M, Guwatudde D, Rwabukwali C, Kaye S, Walakira Y, Ainomugisha D. Religiosity for HIV prevention in Uganda: a case study among Christian youth in Wakiso district. African Health Sciences. 2012; 12(1): 17-25.

[ 19 ] Van Klinken AS. Transforming masculinities in African Christianity: gender controversies in times of AIDS. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing; 2013.

[ 20 ] Giddens A. The Constitution of Society: An Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Cambridge: Polity Press; 1984.

[ 21 ] Mann J, Tarantola D. AIDS in the World II. New York: Oxford University Press; 1996.

[ 22 ] Anarfi JK. To change or not to change: obstacles and resistance to sexual behavioural change among the youth in Ghana in the era of AIDS. Research Review. 2003; 19(1): 27-45.

[ 23 ] Granger MD, Price GN. Does religion constrain the risky sex behaviour associated with HIV/AIDS? Applied Economics. 2009; 41 (6): 791-802.

[ 24 ] Dawuni JJ. The Gendered Face Of HIV/AIDS: The Move Towards Policy Implementation. Studies in Gender and Development in Africa. 2008; 1: 78-94.

[ 25 ] Parsitau D. Keep holy distance and abstain till he comes: interrogating a Pentecostal church’s engagements with HIV/AIDS and the youth in Kenya. Africa Today. 2009; 56(1): 45–64.

[ 26 ] Kirby D, Laris BA, Rolleri LA. Impact of Sex and HIV Education Programs on Sexual Behaviors of Youth in Developing and Developed Countries. Family Health International, Youth Research Working Paper Series. 2005; No. 2.

[ 27 ] Mills E. HIV Illness Meanings and Collaborative Healing Strategies in South Africa. Social Dynamics. 2005; 13 (2): 126-160.

[ 28 ] Nzioka C. Lay perceptions of risk of HIV infection and the social construction of safer sex: some experience from Kanya. AIDS Care. 1996; 8: 565-579.

[ 29 ] Pargament KI, Koenig, HG, Tarakeshwar N, Hahn J. Outcomes among Medically Ill Elderly Patients: A Two-year Longitudinal Study Religious Coping Methods as Predictors of Psychological, Physical and Spiritual. Journal of Health Psychology. 2004; 9(6):


[ 30 ] Joshi S, Kumari S. Religion and AIDS: An overview. Indian Journal of Social Science Researches. 2009; 6(1): 46-55.

[ 31 ] Rabin BS. Stress, immune function and health: the connection. New York: Wiley Liss; 1999.
Original Article