Africa at Noon on January 30, 2013

The Importance of Relationship Dynamics in Explaining HIV Transmission: Results from a Qualitative Case-Control Study in Rakai, Uganda

Jenny Higgins
PhD, MPH, Gender and Women’s Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison

12:00pm, 206 Ingra­ham Hall, 1155 Obser­va­tory Drive, Madi­son, WI


In this paper, Jenny Higgins shares results from 60 in-depth life history interviews with 19-24 year-old women and men from Southern Uganda. An innovative qualitative case-control design matched newly infected HIV-positive cases with HIV-negative “controls” by gender, marital status, age group, and community. Relationship dynamics, type, and quality emerged as the most salient theme explaining differences in HIV-status. She will review these findings, suggest program and policy implications, and highlight the utility of the qualitative matched-pair methodology.


Jenny Higgins recently joined the faculty of UW-Madison’s Gender and Women’s Studies department after leaving her post at Columbia University’s School of Public Health in New York City. She is greatly enjoying her new life in Wisconsin. With degrees in both women’s studies and public health, Jenny employs mixed-methods research approaches to explore relationships between sexuality, gender, and the use of condoms and other contraceptive methods. She publishes widely on how women’s and men’s sexual pleasure-seeking influences the risk of HIV and unintended pregnancy, and how pleasure can be used to promote safer sex.