Re-marriage decisions among people living with HIV in rural Southern Malawi.


Belinda Chimphamba Gombachika* and Heidi Fjeld

This study explores re-marriage decisions of people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in matrilineal Chiradzulu and patrilineal Chikhwawa communities in Malawi. Specifically, it analyzes reasons and circumstances that come into play as they re-consider marriage relationships. Data were collected from July to December, 2010 using in-depth interviews from eighteen informants purposively sampled and was analyzed using content analysis method. Findings show four main issues; irrespective of kinship organization and despite resistance from kin, women decide to re-marry for financial support while men for physical care and emotional support. In the absence of widow inheritance, widows from patrilineal communities are not receiving the expected support from the deceased husband’s relatives leading them to seek support through re-marriage. New marriages in patrilineal communities are supported through traditional marriage formalities. Suggesting that decisions to re-marry are influenced by socio-economic factors. Therefore, we recommend cultural sensitive health programmes embedded in these local realities that accept people living with HIV to re-marry and continue to access prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV and antiretroviral therapy services without reprisal.

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