Cultural heuristics in risk assessment of HIV/AIDS

Ajay Bailey, Inge Hutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Behaviour change models in HIV prevention tend to consider that risky sexual behaviours reflect risk assessments and that by changing risk assessments behaviour can be changed. Risk assessment is however culturally constructed. Individuals use heuristics or bounded cognitive devices derived from broader cultural meaning systems to rationalize uncertainty. In this study, we identify some of the cultural heuristics used by migrant men in Goa, India to assess their risk of HIV infection from different sexual partners. Data derives from a series of in-depth interviews and a locally informed survey. Cultural heuristics identified include visual heuristics, heuristics of gender roles, vigilance and trust. The paper argues that, for more culturally informed HIV/AIDS behaviour change interventions, knowledge of cultural heuristics is essential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-477
Number of pages13
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01-09-2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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