Masculinity, Money and Meaning: Engaging men as HIV community health workers for gender transformation
Working Paper Number: 411
Author: Lesley Gittings
The HIV epidemic is gendered. Women and girls are more likely to contract HIV for biological and social reasons and men living with HIV are more likely to be lost to follow-up and die while on antiretroviral therapy (ART) than women. Caring is also gendered, with women shouldering the burden of HIV care-related work. This paper considers the potential of male-delivered community health work to improve men’s HIV-related health outcomes and shift gendered norms that are related to caring. In doing so, it reviews current evidence on male-focused HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, as well as on gender transformation and men in caring. The paper engages the experiences and perspectives of eight HIV community health workers and their clients from the Cape Town area. Findings suggest that meaningfully involving more men in HIV care work may be a means to interrupt damaging hegemonic masculine norms related to caring and health. Barriers to engaging men in this feminized profession are also explored.