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With the increasing focus on the role of social aspects of the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, the need for an overview of existing research dealing with such issues has become more urgent. The objective of this article is to provide a thematic overview of existing qualitative research on HIV and AIDS in the West African region and to analyze the main research findings in order to identify possible gaps and recommend new research themes to inform future research-based interventions. The analysis is based on a total of 58 articles published from 2001 to 2009 in English or French identified through a literature search in seven scientific, bibliographical databases. Searches included terms related to qualitative studies combined with various terms related to HIV/AIDS. The results of this narrative review show that there was a geographical concentration on Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire and a strong urban bias, with most studies taking place in the capital cities of these countries. The majority of the studies focused on women or women and men; only four articles dealt exclusively with men, of which only two were on men who have sex with men. The main study groups were people living with HIV, young people or female sex workers. Sexual risk-taking and stigmatization were the themes that were most prominently explored in the articles we reviewed. We conclude that research needs to be strengthened in relation to the analysis of experiences with antiretroviral therapy and the non-optimal access to treatment in West Africa. Also, more research is needed on men and their exposure to HIV/AIDS, as well as on the role of concurrent partnership in the spread of HIV.


Helle Samuelsen, Ole Norgaard, Lise Rosendal Ostergaard. Social and cultural aspects of HIV and AIDS in West Africa: a narrative review of qualitative research. SAHARA J : journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS Research Alliance / SAHARA , Human Sciences Research Council. 2012;9(2):64-73

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PMID: 23237041

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