Masculinity, sexuality and HIV/AIDS in Zambian prisons


Start date: 31 March, 2010 End date: 30 May, 2015 Project type: Smaller projects: PhD Project code: 09-032RUC Countries: Zambia Thematic areas: Conflict, peace and security, State building, governance and civil society, Lead institution: Roskilde University (RUC), Denmark Policy Brief: Read Project coordinator: Anne Egelund Ryberg Total grant: 2,779,864 DKK Project files:

Project summary

The spread of HIV/AIDS is deeply embedded in socio-economic realities of poverty and inequality. This research aims to shed light on experiences of incarcerated men, a group who are routinely overlooked in prevention efforts and yet are extremely vulnerable to infection. The objective of the study is to examine how prisoners attempt to sustain their livelihood in the deprived prison environment and how sexual relations are part of this struggle. Evidence suggests that many prisoners are forced to engage in sexual activity to ensure for instance a simple meal. Sexual relations seem to play into the social reality, incl. power struggles over scarce resources, in prison. In order to design effective HIV prevention programmes, HIV/AIDS have to be understood in a larger social context. The research question: How do prisoners navigate in the social system of the prison, and what are the effects on risk behaviour in relation to HIV transmission? Activities: 5 months field work. Data analysis. Theoretical development. Participant observations in prisons. Qualitative interviews with relevant informants: inmates, staff, and experts. Output and communication: The PhD thesis will provide valuable input to HIV/AIDS policy and strategy development in Zambia. It will contribute to capacity building and synergies in both Danish and Zambian research communities. A goal is also in collaboration with Zambian partners to disseminate results to the Zambian government, Prisons Service and the public.


Project Completion Report:


Research question:
How do incarcerated men survive imprisonment psychologically and socially, and how do sexual relations play into this struggle for survival?

3 working questions:

1. What characterises the experience of imprisonment in a Zambian prison?
2. How do inmates survive incarceration – psychologically and socially?
3. How do sexual relations play into the struggle for psychological, social and physical survival?

The purpose of the study was:

• To strengthen the knowledge base in relation to prisoner experiences and coping strategies. This knowledge provides opportunity to explore and address some of the prison pains.

• To provide research based knowledge to aid the facilitation of increased awareness and knowledge-based interventions for improved conditions and health.

The result has been a PhD, which is a scholarly piece of work with an aim to inform academia as well as practise.

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