Tapping Into Traditional Norms for Preventing HIV and Unintended Pregnancy: Harnessing the Influence of Grandmothers (Agogos) in Malawi

Int Q Community Health Educ. 2015;36(1):53-70. doi: 10.1177/0272684X15615446. Epub 2015 Nov 24.


Young girls in Malawi must be able to acquire sexual health information and skills to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and prevent unintended pregnancies. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a pilot training program that sought to enhance the skills of grandmothers (Agogos) to discuss issues related to sex and sexuality with young girls. Data from eight focus group discussions were analyzed, comparing trained Agogos and the girls they counseled to untrained Agogos and the girls they counseled. Trained Agogos and the girls they counseled, compared with untrained Agogos and the girls they counseled, reported being more comfortable in communicating sexual issues with young girls at earlier ages, were more likely to have interactive discussions, and were more likely to stress the importance of finishing school as reasons to delay sexual activity. More research is needed to determine if such an approach is effective and sustainable.

Keywords: Africa; African sexuality; HIV/AIDS; community interventions; young women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Community Networks
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Grandparents*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Malawi
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned*
  • Qualitative Research