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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
MALAWI: Can Interfaith Research Partnerships Develop New Paradigms for Condom Use and HIV Prevention? The Implementation of Conceptual Events in Malawi Results in a 'Spiritualized Condom'

February 7, 2012
Sexually Transmitted Infections Vol. 87: P. 611-615 (12..11) -

"The aim of this intervention research study was to engage senior leaders of faith-based organizations (FBOs) in Malawi in a participatory process to construct an interfaith theology of HIV/AIDS," the authors wrote. The process was created to enhance faith community leaders' capacity to respond more effectively to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

An evidence-driven combination of ethnographic and participatory action research methodologies was employed. During the four-year project, conceptual events - "innovative participatory action research processes" - were held, bringing together health service providers, policy makers, and a non- governmental organization in partnership with FBOs and grassroots faith-based communities.

An interfaith theology of HIV/AIDS emerged from the facilitated dialogue. This resulted in "the proposition that a 'spiritualized condom' endorses a 'theology of protecting life,'" the authors wrote. The following convictions supported this proposition: *Life is sacred and should be protected.

*Killing or murder is a "greater sin" compared to the "lesser sin of infidelity." *Protecting the innocent is a moral and religious requirement.

*Condoms potentially can prevent the death of an innocent person.

*Condom use should be encouraged, even in the context of marriage.

"Clinicians, non-governmental organizations, health service providers, and policy makers, assisted by health social scientists, can successfully partner with FBOs and their leaders to 1) modify and transform faith-based understandings of HIV risk and 2) bring about attitudinal behavior changes that help to address the challenges association with HIV/AIDS," the researchers concluded.