Liberian pastors’ communication about sexual behavior and HIV/AIDS

Document Type



Graduate School of Media and Communications


In what little literature exists on local churches and HIV/AIDS, attention is rarely paid to the specific messages that churches preach, or the context within which those messages are disseminated. This article presents results of in-depth interviews with leaders of 8 churches in Yekepa, Liberia, regarding content and context of messages they disseminate to their congregations about sex and HIV./AIDS. Content of messages was nearly consistent across denominations. However, three tensions were identified within pastoral communication of these topics: the need to discuss sexual issues versus societal taboos against speaking about those issues from the pulpit; traditional versus current cultural norms; and the ideal of abstinence and fidelity versus the real sexual behavior of congregants. Pastors differed in their response to these dilemmas; Only the Lutheran church appeared to be openly addressing HIV and sexuality in public communication. Other churches addressed these issues, if at all, in private counseling forums.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

African Communication Research

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.