Masculinity and HIV The impact of men’s masculinities on risky behaviour in Umgungundlovu district, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för socialt arbete

Abstract: This study aimed at exploring the relationship between masculinities and HIV and AIDS. In so doing, the study sought to provide a thorough understanding of whether specific masculine identities influence men to indulge in unsafe sexual practices in uMgungundlovu District, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Two central questions, that is, the measure of the relationship between masculinity and HIV risky behaviour as well as the relationship between HIV behaviour and HIV prevalence. The study used that baseline data of WAV two of data collection data collected through HIV Incidence Provincial Surveillance System (HIPSS), collected between 2015 and 2016. This was a longitudinal study to monitor HIV incidence trends in the uMgungundlovu District, KwaZulu-Natal-South Africa. The point of departure for this was that men’s masculinity mediated by men’s socially ascribed roles and practices are likely to influence to engage in unsafe practices that increase their vulnerability to contract HIV or even increase their chances of spreading to the female partners. Three theories which included hegemonic masculinity, social role theory and social constructionism approach were used to provide a theoretical underpinning to the study. The main finding of the study demonstrated that there is a significant relationship between men’s masculinity and the level of engagement in risky behaviour. Through an ordered ordinal regression, it was revealed increased masculinity was related to increased level of engagement in risk behaviour. There was also a significant relationship between the level of education and risky behaviour, whereby the increased level of education was associated with reduced level of risky behaviour. However, the results also showed that there was no statistically significant association between HIV behaviour and HIV prevalence. This could be attributed to the point of view of the study that looked at masculinity through the frames of men, assuming that masculinity is socially constructed and hence, understood as those traits that are associated with men. The study concludes that men’s masculinities are implicit to be driving the epidemic through risky sexual behaviour. It is, therefore, necessary for HIV intervention programs, to consider the influence of men’s masculinities on their engagement in risky behaviour, but also gain a deeper understanding of the socio-cultural and other factors contextual that create and sustain certain virility and sex-based norms and stereotypes. Thus, one can recommend a shift in HIV prevention programming from models of preventive programmes and interventions that are individual-based to a more cultural, contextual and multi-level explanations and interventions.

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