Intersectionality of HIV stigma and masculinity in eastern Uganda: implications for involving men in HIV programmes

Mburu G, Ram M, Siu G, Bitira D, Skovdal M, Holland P BMC Public Health, 2014; Intersectionality of HIV stigma and masculinity in eastern Uganda: implications for involving men in HIV programmes

Stigma is a determinant of social and health inequalities. In addition, some notions of masculinity can disadvantage men in terms of health outcomes. However, few studies have explored the extent to which these two axes of social inequality intersect to influence men's health outcomes.

This paper investigates the intersection of HIV stigma and masculinity, and its perceived impact on men's participation in and utilisation of HIV services in Uganda.

Researchers conducted interviews and undertook focus group discussions with men and women living with HIV, their family members and health providers. These took place in Mbale and Jinja districts of Uganda between June and October 2010. Inductive analysis was used to identify mechanisms through which stigma and masculinity were linked.

Findings showed that HIV stigma threatened masculine notions of respectability, independence and emotional control, while it amplified men’s risk-taking. As a result, the intersection of masculinity and HIV stigma prevented some men from:

  • seeking health care and accepting a ‘sick role’
  • fulfilling their economic family responsibilities
  • safeguarding their reputation and respectability
  • disclosing their HIV status
  • participating in peer support groups  

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