Reaching Men: Addressing the Blind Spot in the HIV Response

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Laura Pascoe
Dean Peacock
Lara Stemple


men’s health; masculinity; health behaviour; social hierarchy, socioeconomic factors


Globally, men are less likely than women to access human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing, treatment, and care, and consequently experience disproportionate HIV-related mortality. To address men's underutilization of HIV services, efforts are needed on two fronts: challenging the regressive gender norms that discourage men from seeking health services, and developing improved health system policies, programs, and service delivery strategies to ensure better provision of HIV services to men. It has long been understood that harmful gender norms make women vulnerable to HIV, and this understanding should expand to include the way these norms also put men at risk. This paper presents the data concerning men and HIV, explores the impact of gender norms, examines national and international policy developments, and chronicles the evolution of men’s place in the HIV response. It does so in part by tracing the efforts of Sonke Gender Justice, a South African NGO working across Africa, as it promotes the engagement of men in the fight against the dual epidemics of gender inequality and HIV.

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