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Cultural practices among the Sena in Nsanje District Malawi : HIV and AIDS and the African Evangelical Church.

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This study focuses on the cultural practices that contribute to the increase of HIV and AIDS in Nsanje district of Malawi. The study also proves the hypothesis that the African Evangelical Church has not responded effectively to the cultural practices that influence the spread of HIV. As a result, this has led to the high prevalence rate of HIV in the Nsanje district. Data was collected using content analysis. The findings of this research are that people of Nsanje district have maintained their cultural practices within the context of HIV and AIDS. The key cultural practices that have been maintained are widow cleansing, widow inheritance, bonus wife, fisi (hyena) custom, polygamy and bzyade. The study has also found that sexual intercourse is used in most rituals as a tool for purification. It is a great challenge for church and the community to modify or stop these cultural practices because some of the people in Nsanje district claim that these cultural practices have been practiced since the existence of their forefathers in Nsanje district. The study has also found that there are multiple sexual partners involved in the sexual rituals which increase high risk of the spread of HIV. Therefore, the study recommends that the community together with the church should take a stand in responding to the cultural practices in an attempt to combat the spread of HIV.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.