Religion and Risk: HIV and Sexual Behavior by Religious Affiliation across Seven African Countries

Jonathan Garcia, Columbia University
Ashley M. Fox, Columbia University

Researchers have hypothesized that lower rates of sexual risk behaviour among Muslims may account for lower HIV prevalence in West Africa. However, because Muslims universally circumcise, researchers have been unable to disentangle whether the lower rates of HIV in West Africa stem from behavioral factors associated with Islam or universal male circumcision. Using seven Demographic and Health Surveys that contain HIV biomarker data, stepwise logistic regression models were run on circumcised male Muslims and circumcised male Christians to assess their relative odds of HIV infection adjusting for sexual behavior, demographic characteristics and country fixed effects. Separate models were run on sexual behavior. Circumcised Christians had significantly higher and Muslims had significantly lower odds of being infected with HIV. Christians were significantly more likely to report having had an extramarital partner and had a lower age at first sex but Muslims were significantly more likely to be in a polygamous union.

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Presented in Poster Session 3