Seen through western eyes, beliefs in supernatural forces are common in Ghana and other African countries. Death, suffering and diseases are often attributed to witchcraft. Over thirty per cent of its inhabitants believe such evil forces could be responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS.
When meeting Ghanian colleagues, professor and sociologist Knud Knudsen at the University of Stavanger was confronted with intellectually challenging issues.
"The spread of AIDS is usually larger in less well-off areas. With lower income, little education and a higher share of illiteracy, Ghana's Northern regions are traditionally poorer that the Southern ones. Still, people in the Upper East Region seem to have a better grasp of the actual infection mechanism behind this terrible epidemic," Knudsen says.
Mapping people's perceptions/p>
Together with Ghanian PhD-student Phyllis Antwi, Knud Knudsen has written an article due to be published in the international journal Global Health Promotion later this year. The authors examined data from the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey from 2003, involving 10,000 respondents of both sexes between the ages of 15-49.
The survey was quite expensive, and in part internationally funded. And it provides a unique starting point for trying to understand Ghanians' attitudes and practices in relation to AIDS, Knudsen explains.
In addition to fertility and family planning in Ghana, the survey charted people's awareness and conduct towards AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Respondents were asked questions about alternative transmittance models, thereby enabling the researchers to compare their perceptions with modern medical knowledge.
Traditional beliefs are underestimated/p>
Knudsen thinks the belief in witchcraft as a cause of AIDS, is an underestimated factor when developing relevant health programmes. Implementing standard programmes is difficult i
|Contact: Karen Anne Okstad|
University of Stavanger