The Kenyan HIV/AIDS burden differs greatly among its various regions. There are 42
different ethnic groups each with its unique culture. Nyanza province, the home of
the Luos shares the highest HIV/AIDs prevalence of 15.1% while in the North
Eastern region, the home of Somalis is at 0.5%. Nyanza province is the home of the
counties with the highest HIV/AIDs prevalence rates: Homabay-26%, Siaya 24.8%,
Kisumu 19.9% and Migori 14.3% while Wajir county in Northern Eastern province
has 0.4% prevalence rate. The HIV/AIDS burden also is greatest among females
between 15-49 years.
Culture and ethnicity are generally associated with risky sexual behaviour in relation
to HIV/AIDs. Paradoxically, this relationship has not been deeply investigated within
the Kenyan context. Therefore, set against the backdrop of HIV/AIDs scourge in
Kenya, the need to understand cultural meaning related to this problem and how
social marketing intervention can be appropriately used is a necessary study area.
This study explores the link between culture and risky sexual behaviour in relation to
HIV/AIDs, for the purpose of seeking situated understanding of the consequences and
possible intervention strategies. It explores the contextual and cultural realities faced
by intervention programmers using a social marketing approach in a multi-culturally
rich environment as Kenya.
A Qualitative approach is used to probe cultural and contextual realities faced by
intervention programme leaders to understand the barriers and opportunities presented
by context and culture to their work. Instruments of open-ended questions and
qualitative interviews are used to provide in-depth insights of their experiences from
their own point of views. The results greatly link contextual realities and tribal
cultures to the spread of HIV/AIDs.
The findings imply that cultures and context of a market or target audiences greatly
impact on social marketing programmes. A good understanding of the two should
indeed be the foundations that guide the planning, implementing, monitoring and
evaluating of cultural specific social marketing initiatives, rather than the use of
generic or blanketed campaigns. They should also guide the application of upstream,
in-stream and downstream social marketing approaches. There is need for
programmers and other stakeholders to invest in cultural competency to avoid
culturally incongruence in decision-making, policies and programmes. More
resources are necessary to change deprived contexts for successful programme work.
The study makes important contributions to social marketing and related disciplines.
Firstly, it suggests cultural context assessment composite model and culturalcontextual
assessment model for use by social marketers. These models can greatly
help programmers understand their target audiences’ cultural and contextual
environments, in order to actively use this intelligence in social marketing
programmes. Secondly the study contributes to an understanding of the Kenyan tribal
groups’ culturally sensitive knowledge on sexual beliefs and practices that have
impact on HIV/AIDS. This knowledge greatly contributes to an understanding of
patterns of HIV transmission within the country, as the significant aspects of seven
major and three minor Kenyan tribes, accounting for 81.22% of the Kenyan
population, are well explored and discussed in this study. Lastly, the study makes
important recommendations in relations to cultural and contextual aspects, which
social marketers, policy makers, the government and other stakeholders can work on
for more effective social marketing interventions.