In the absence of an HIV vaccine, information has played a pivotal role in influencing behaviour change in people. The ability to design successful HIV and AIDS information campaigns is highly dependent on knowledge of people’s information behaviour. Accordingly, there is a need for a clear understanding of the information behaviour of groups of people affected and infected by HIV.
Serodiscordant couples are couples where only one partner is HIV positive. My PhD project aims to investigate how such couples experience HIV and AIDS information in Malawi.
Data were collected between September and October 2013. Twenty four interviews were conducted in two districts of Malawi and I am currently in the later stages of analysing the transcribed data. I am using Van Manen’s phenomenological approach to help generate descriptions and interpretations of the experiences of HIV and AIDS information. Phenomenology is a research approach that seeks to understand how people experience phenomena.
Although policy makers and practitioners in Malawi are aware that HIV information is an indispensable component of the fight against the HIV pandemic, their focus seems to be more on getting information to the people than on understanding the information related dynamics that drive behavioural change. According to the National AIDS Commission (Malawi), Eighty percent of new HIV infections occur among serodiscordant couples. A better understanding how such couples experience HIV and AIDS information would therefore be of considerable valuable in helping to combat the HIV pandemic.
This study is significant for two main reasons. Firstly, HIV and AIDS have an impact on the development of Malawi and Africa. Therefore, it is important to develop knowledge of how to control their spread. Secondly, to the best of the researcher’s knowledge, there has not been any study of HIV and AIDS related information behaviour conducted in Malawi. This study therefore, contributes not only to our understanding of the information behaviour of serodiscordant couples but also, more generally, to our knowledge and understanding of the information behaviour of people living with HIV.
Emerging results of the study suggest that the life-world is the overarching framework in which HIV and AIDS information is experienced. In addition, the experiencing of HIV and AIDS information is found to occur at four levels: while anticipating, interacting with, acting on, and reflecting on the information. The results of the study also indicate that, at all these levels, HIV and AIDS information is experienced with emotions.