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Challenges of a pandemic: HIV/AIDS-related problems affecting Kenyan widows

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Abstract

The paper reports the findings of a qualitative study using focus group discussions and in-depth interviews about the challenges faced by widows as they confront the direct and indirect impacts of HIV/AIDS in Nyanza, Kenya. Two focus groups were conducted with widows from two community-based organizations. This was followed by in-depth interviews with four members and two leaders from each of the community-based organizations. The contents were analysed using grounded theory. The findings reveal several challenges encountered by widows in their struggles with the direct and indirect impacts of HIV/AIDS. Widows who know or do not know their HIV status are conscious about the possibility of contracting or transmitting the virus. Wife inheritance (a Luo custom), emerged as an outstanding issue for the widows in the context of HIV/AIDS transmission. The widows employ various strategies to resist being inherited. Widows in the current epidemic navigate issues of sexuality in various ways, such as insisting their partners use condoms or permanently abstaining from sexual intercourse.

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