Sexual behaviour and perceptions of risk: male rural-urban migrants in Tanzania

Ernestina E. Coast, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Migration is a primary cause of behaviour change, and urban migrants are an important target group for AIDS prevention strategies. Using data from men in northern Tanzania, quantitative (n=147 respondents) and qualitative (n=8 focus group discussions) data address three key research questions: Does the sexual behaviour of rural-urban migrants differ from rural residents? How do the sexual experience and behaviour of rural-urban migrants differ from rural residents? Do perceptions of risk differ between rural-urban migrants and rural residents? The perception of risk is being clearly defined by rural-urban migrants, with risky sex equating with sex in town. By avoiding sex in town urban-rural migrants perceive themselves to be making a rational decision to prevent infection. Respondents construct risk at the societal level – town or ethnic group – not at the individual level. The study demonstrates that knowledge does not translate into personal risk assessment, which is instead viewed dichotomously – town versus rural.

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Presented in Session 40: The behavioural dimension of the HIV epidemic: risks, perceptions and behaviours