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Keywords:

  • social learning;
  • social networks;
  • behaviour change;
  • HIV/AIDS;
  • sub-Saharan Africa

Abstract

There is increasing programme focus on the impact of HIV and AIDS and the advances in biomedical research that are taking central stage even in sub-Saharan Africa. Perhaps out of frustration, communication and behaviour change efforts are receiving lesser attention. But as long as heterosexual intercourse remains the predominant means of transmission of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, there is the inherent danger of more people getting infected thus mopping up the gains from other approaches. This paper therefore argues for evidence based behaviour change interventions in sub-Saharan Africa, revisits the behaviour change theories and their relevance to the African situation. It proposes an integration of models based on the convergence of three existing theories of social learning, diffusion of innovation and social networks and the author's understanding of some African culture. The beauty of the model is based on the fact that ‘social norms are best understood and influenced at the level of social networks’; existing chains of communication and the naturalness of exchange of information. A case is made for application of the ‘model’ to precipitate sexual behaviour change and HIV reduction in sub-Saharan Africa. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.