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Myths about HIV and AIDS among serodiscordant couples in Malawi

Kondwani Wella (College of Nursing, University of Malawi, Lilongwe, Malawi)
Sheila Webber (Information School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Philippa Levy (The Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to report on research that uncovered myths about HIV and AIDS held by serodiscordant couples in Malawi, and the sources of these myths. The paper reflects on how the myths affect serodiscordant couples’ engagement with HIV and AIDS information.


Van Manen’s (1997) approach to analysis of phenomenological data was used to analyse data from in-depth interviews conducted in Malawi with 21 serodiscordant couples and three individuals who had separated from their partners because of serodiscordance.


Serodiscordant couples in Malawi believe and hold on to some inaccurate HIV and AIDS information that can be seen as “myths”. Some of these myths are perpetuated by official HIV and AIDS information when it is translated into the local languages. Other myths derive from social norms of the societies where the couples live.

Practical implications

The findings of this paper have practical implications for how HIV and AIDS information providers should engage with target audiences to understand the origins of the myths they hold. The findings also imply that some myths have technical, religious, moral and cultural bases which need to be addressed before challenging the myth itself.


Using real-life descriptions of experiences of HIV and AIDS information provided by serodiscordant couples, the authors reveal how myths can affect engagement with the information. The authors make recommendations on how to address myths in ways that contribute to a positive experience of HIV and AIDS information by serodiscordant couples.



Wella, K., Webber, S. and Levy, P. (2017), "Myths about HIV and AIDS among serodiscordant couples in Malawi", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 69 No. 3, pp. 278-293.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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