Gender Norms, Gender Role Conflict/Stress and HIV Risk Behaviors among Men in Mpumalanga, South Africa

April 2017 - Behavioral Prevention

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Gottert, A., Barrington, C., McNaughton-Reyes, H.L., et al. AIDS and Behavior (February 2017), e-publication ahead of print, doi:10.1007/s10461-017-1706-9.

This study examined associations between both gender norms and men's gender role conflict and stress (GRC/S) (men's stress about playing their expected roles as men) and HIV risk behaviors. The authors used data from a population-based survey of 579 men aged 18–35 years in rural northeast South Africa, and they developed a GRC/S scale focused on three behaviors: sexual partner concurrency, intimate partner violence (IPV), and alcohol abuse. The GRC/S scale incorporated sub-elements describing men's views on gender equity (such as tolerance for violence); success (the ability to earn money or "win" in competition); subordination to women (the need to earn more than women); emotional expression; and sexual prowess. The findings showed high prevalence of concurrency and IPV perpetration in the past 12 months (38.0% and 13.4%, respectively); 19.9 percent of men abused alcohol. More inequitable gender norms and higher GRC/S were each significantly associated with greater likelihood that each of the three risk factors would be present. Further analysis suggested that subordination to women was strongly linked to concurrency; that constricted emotional expression was key to IPV perpetration; and that limited success was linked to alcohol abuse. These findings, the authors said, pointed to a strong need for programs to transform gender norms; these should be coupled with effective strategies for addressing men's GRC/S.

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