Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr Frances McCarty - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Donna Smith - Committee Member


ABSTRACT CHRISTINE KIBUI Exploring Culturally Specific Practices that Might Exacerbate the Spread of HIV/AIDS in the Luhya Community of Western Kenya. (Under the direction of Frances McCarty, Faculty Member and Donna Smith, Research Associate) INTRODUCTION: In the year 2007, there were 22 million people aged 15 and above living with HIV, 1.9 million new HIV infections, and 1.5 million HIV related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. In the same year, the rest of the world had an estimated 11 million people aged 15 and above living with HIV, 0.8 million new HIV infections and 0.5 million deaths related to HIV. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to explore the culturally perceived practices that may have the capacity to exacerbate the spread of HIV/AIDS among the members of the Luhya community in Western Kenya. METHODOLOGY: The Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis approach and the Health Belief Model served to inform the study. Qualitative analysis was conducted on focus group discussions and individual interviews conducted in Kanduyi, Webuye, Bungoma, Bukembe, and Misikhu towns of Bungoma districts, Western Kenya province. RESULTS: Circumcision, polygamy, concurrent relationships, funeral services and wife inheritance are some of the cultural practices that may put the members of the Luhya community at risk for HIV transmission. Poverty, low health literacy, unsafe sexual practices exacerbate HIV risk among the communities. DISCUSSION: The issue of culture cannot be overlooked when it comes to HIV prevention interventions in Bungoma district. It will be necessary for Public health workers to work with all stakeholders in the community to identify interventions that are acceptable to the community.