Talking about the "epidemic of the millennium": Religion, informal communication, and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa

Victor Agadjanian, Cecilia Menjívar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


This study employs a social capital perspective to examine determinants and content of informal communication about HIV/AIDS among members of different Christian congregations in Mozambique. First, we use data from a survey conducted in both rural and urban congregations to analyze factors that shape such communication, and detect that it is more likely to occur in gender-homophilous networks, in more ideologically flexible and socially diverse congregations, and in congregations located in rural areas. We then use the survey data to examine the main themes of congregation-based communication about HIV/AIDS and find denominational and location patterns that correspond to those detected in the first stage of analysis. Finally, we use qualitative data, collected in parallel with the survey, to explore how informal communication is used to reconcile the often conflicting secular and church messages. We interpret our findings in light of structural dynamics within religious congregations and the social construction of HIV/AIDS risks and prevention in that sub-Saharan setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-321
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Problems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008



  • Informal communication
  • Mozambique
  • Religion
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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