AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 836–844

Estimating Alcohol Content of Traditional Brew in Western Kenya Using Culturally Relevant Methods: The Case for Cost Over Volume


    • Department of MedicineYale University School of Medicine
  • John E. Sidle
    • Department of MedicineMoi University Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Emmanuel S. Wamalwa
  • Thomas O. Okumu
    • Kenya Bureau of Standards
  • Kendall L. Bryant
    • National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  • Joseph L. Goulet
    • Department of MedicineYale University School of Medicine
  • Stephen A. Maisto
    • Department of PsychologySyracuse University
  • R. Scott Braithwaite
    • Department of MedicineYale University School of Medicine
  • Amy C. Justice
    • Department of MedicineYale University School of Medicine
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10461-008-9492-z

Cite this article as:
Papas, R.K., Sidle, J.E., Wamalwa, E.S. et al. AIDS Behav (2010) 14: 836. doi:10.1007/s10461-008-9492-z


Traditional homemade brew is believed to represent the highest proportion of alcohol use in sub-Saharan Africa. In Eldoret, Kenya, two types of brew are common: chang’aa, spirits, and busaa, maize beer. Local residents refer to the amount of brew consumed by the amount of money spent, suggesting a culturally relevant estimation method. The purposes of this study were to analyze ethanol content of chang’aa and busaa; and to compare two methods of alcohol estimation: use by cost, and use by volume, the latter the current international standard. Laboratory results showed mean ethanol content was 34% (SD = 14%) for chang’aa and 4% (SD = 1%) for busaa. Standard drink unit equivalents for chang’aa and busaa, respectively, were 2 and 1.3 (US) and 3.5 and 2.3 (Great Britain). Using a computational approach, both methods demonstrated comparable results. We conclude that cost estimation of alcohol content is more culturally relevant and does not differ in accuracy from the international standard.


AlcoholTraditional brewHIVKenyaCognitive behavioral treatment

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008