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Seminar Series: Polygyny, Partnership Concurrency and HIV transmission in Sub Saharan Africa

Georges Reniers, Assistant Professor, Office of Population Research, Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, Department of Sociology, Princeton University
When Mar 12, 2012
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 0124B Cole Student Activities Building
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Talk

We study the relationship between polygyny and HIV infection using nationally representative survey data with linked serostatus information from 20 African countries. Our results indicate that junior wives in polygynous unions are more likely to be HIV positive than spouses of monogamous men, but also that HIV prevalence is lower in populations with more polygyny. With these results in mind, we investigate four explanations for the contrasting individual and ecological-level associations. These relate to (1) the adverse selection of HIV positive women into polygynous unions, (2) the sexual network structure characteristic of polygyny, (3) the relatively low coital frequency in conjugal dyads of polygynous marriages (coital dilution), (4) and the restricted access to sexual partners for younger men in populations where polygynous men presumably monopolize the women in their community (monopolizing polygynists). We find evidence for some of these mechanisms, and together they support the proposition that polygynous marriage systems impede the spread of HIV. We relate these results to the debate about partnership concurrency as a primary behavioral driver behind the fast propagation of HIV in some part of sub-Saharan Africa.

Georges Reniers

About the Speaker

Georges Reniers is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He received his Ph.D. in Demography and Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Reniers worked in and on Ethiopia, Malawi and South Africa. Most of his recent research is on marriage and partnership dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa and their pertinence for the HIV epidemic. He also conducted a number of studies on adult mortality in populations with deficient data systems.

Website: http://www.princeton.edu/~greniers/

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