This article reports on an investigation into the extent to which individual involvement in community participatory research activities on HIV/AIDS created agreement or consensus among participants from four Malawian communities about the causes, risks, and behaviours associated with AIDS transmission in their communities. In this research, cultural consensus analysis was used in an exploratory manner to measure the level of agreement among participants prior to and immediately following participation in community participatory workshops. The results demonstrate variability by community and gender in the levels of consensus, or agreement, achieved through the workshops. These findings suggest that consensus is not an automatic outcome of participation in small group interventions and in some cases can result in less agreement on community issues around HIV. Moreover, we lack a clear understanding of how consensus contributes to desired or positive change. Also discussed is the potential utility of cultural consensus analysis as a tool in evaluating the effectiveness of community participatory interventions.
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