Sex Roles, Vol. 52, Nos. 1/2, January 2005 (
Contemporary Myths, Sexuality Misconceptions,
Information Sources, and Risk Perceptions
of Bodabodamen in Southwest Uganda
and Bessie Kalina
This article reports ﬁndings from a study conducted among 212 private motorbike–taxi rid-
ers, locally called bodabodamen, from two study sites—a slum area and the urban center of
Masaka town. Qualitative and quantitative methods were triangulated; a questionnaire, focus
group discussions, in-depth interviews, case studies, and interactive workshops were all used.
There were high levels of awareness of HIV, much more than sexually transmitted diseases
(STDs), because many participants had closely experienced HIV/AIDS. Knowledge about
sexual health contained several misconceptions, misinformation, and myths rooted in both
the historical and contemporary social cultural context. Due to high illiteracy levels, bodabo-
damen cannot access many standard health education materials issued by government and
private health organizations through the print and electronic media, as well as those pub-
lished in languages other than the local vernacular. These (and possibly other) disadvantaged
groups remain at risk of HIV and STDs. Especial efforts need to be made to provide appro-
priate health education.
KEY WORDS: sexuality information; risk perceptions; masculinity.
Studies reveal Uganda’s success story in reduc-
ing the incidence of HIV (Asiimwe-Okorir et al.,
1997; Mulder, Nunn, Kamali, & Kengeya-Kayondo,
1995). This achievement is attributed to the rigorous
multisectoral strategy of openly providing health ed-
ucation, information, and communication to the ru-
ral and urban masses (Rwomushana, 2000). With the
much-praised leadership of President Yoweri Musev-
eni, government, public enterprises, nongovernment
organizations, community-based initiatives, multina-
tional companies, and other bodies all participate in
the dissemination of health education messages to
the grass-root persons (Okware, 1987).
HPU, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,
Medical Research Council (UK) Programme on AIDS in
Uganda, Uganda Virus Research Institute, Uganda.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at HPU, London
School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street,
London WC1E 7HT, UK; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Surveys point to increased levels of knowledge
and awareness about several aspects of HIV/AIDS
including transmission, prevention, and manage-
ment. Studies also document awareness levels over
90% (STD/AIDS Control Program, 1999; UNAIDS,
1997). However, interventions based upon behavior
change models suggest a gap between knowledge lev-
els and behavior change (Kinsman et al., 2002). We
decided to investigate the knowledge, beliefs, atti-
tudes, and behavior of an indigenous employment
group of motorbike taxi-men, locally known as bod-
abodamen, in relation to sexuality, sexual behav-
ior, sexual health, and sexually transmitted diseases
(STDs) including HIV/AIDS.
WHY STUDY BODABODAMEN?
The media in Uganda present a stereotypi-
cal image of public transport operators as among
2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.