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Local understandings of, and responses to, HIV: rural–urban migrants in Tanzania

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Migration is an important process of change for rural populations in developing countries. Migration is a primary cause of behaviour change – by their very act of migrating, migrants are different from those who do not migrate. The focus of the current study is male rural-urban migration in Tanzania and its interaction with sexual behaviour. The analysis presents results from a comparison with individual-level analyses of two populations, one (composed of recent rural-urban migrants) in an urban area and one in a rural area. Detailed migration histories (n=96 rural-urban migrants) and in-depth interviews (n=96 rural-urban migrants, n=51 rural residents) form the basis of the study. Three key research questions are addressed: How does the sexual behaviour of migrants differ from that of rural residents? How do HIV knowledge levels vary between rural-urban migrants and rural residents? What factors are associated with either intentions of behaviour change or reported behaviour? The results are counter-intuitive: rural-urban migrants – both married and unmarried – are not having sex in town. Despite limited understanding of the nature of HIV, the migrant population studied here regulates its behaviour in a way that reflects local understandings of the disease. This finding it important, not least because it challenges the view that HIV in sub-Saharan Africa is largely transmitted to rural areas by return migrants. Maasai rural-urban migrants in Tanzania – both married and unmarried – are not having sex in town. The policy and service provision implications of the results are explored.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/817/1/Coast_SSMpost-review.pdf

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