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Marital Aspirations, Sexual Behaviors, and HIV/AIDS in Rural Malawi
Article first published online: 16 APR 2009
© National Council on Family Relations, 2009
Journal of Marriage and Family
Volume 71, Issue 2, pages 396–416, May 2009
How to Cite
Clark, S., Poulin, M. and Kohler, H.-P. (2009), Marital Aspirations, Sexual Behaviors, and HIV/AIDS in Rural Malawi. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71: 396–416. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2009.00607.x
This manuscript was edited by Velma McBride Murry.
- Issue published online: 16 APR 2009
- Article first published online: 16 APR 2009
- marital aspirations;
- sexual behaviors;
- sub-Saharan Africa
We explore how marital aspirations are related to the sexual behaviors of adolescents and young adults in Malawi, where HIV/AIDS prevalence among adults exceeds 10%. We also consider whether the specter of AIDS is shaping ideals about marriage. By combining survey data (N = 1,087) and in-depth interviews (N = 133) with young Malawians from the Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project, we show that looking for and finding a suitable spouse are linked to sexual behaviors and, thus, HIV risks. Moreover, concerns about contracting HIV are closely tied to the ideal characteristics of a future spouse. Our findings draw long-overdue attention to the importance of marital aspirations in understanding adolescent sexual behaviors and risks in the era of AIDS.