Graduate Program

Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

Fall 2023

Thesis Director

Daniel K. Banini

Thesis Committee Member

Paul Janssen Danyi

Thesis Committee Member

Melinda A. Mueller


Policy researchers tend to focus on policy change and policy actors. Rarely is attention given to the influence of dominant socio-cultural values on domestic policies. This research aims to draw a connection between HIV policy discourse and strategies, and the mainstream beliefs and norms of the society where they are developed. The significance of the study is to highlight the challenge that these dominant values could pose to the development of comprehensive and effective policies. The research uses Critical Discourse Analysis to draw a linkage between HIV policies developed in Ghana and Nigeria. The study finds that while mainstream norms and beliefs influence the discourse and strategies of policies, there are nuances. For example, while HIV policies developed in Ghana before 2013 completely exclude sexual minorities due to the rejection of homosexuality as a legitimate sexual orientation in Ghana, those developed by the Nigerian Health Ministry did not exclude homosexuals completely. However, both set of HIV policies developed by Ghana and Nigeria limited sexual education for adolescents to abstinence only approach, due to the cultural expectations of adolescents to abstain from sex until marriage. It is worth noting that recent policies developed after 2013 have changed their discourse to include sexual minorities and have adopted comprehensive sexuality education that includes safe sex alongside abstinence.