"If you don't take a stand for your life, who will help you?": Men's engagement in HIV care in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The needs of South African men with HIV may often be overlooked in the provision of HIV services, leading to care programs that do not adequately serve the unique needs of male patients. Additionally, norms of masculinity guide men's behaviors as they navigate health decision-making and the healthcare systems. The aim of this study is to examine how masculinity influences healthcare access and utilization in South Africa, and to identify opportunities for interventions. The qualitative study took place at one primary health care clinic in a peri-urban township in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In-depth individual interviews were conducted with 21 HIV-infected men recruited from the study clinic. Direct observations of the clinic waiting area were conducted to provide context. Data were analyzed using a grounded theory-informed approach involving memo writing and thematic exploration with data coding. On average, participants were 42 years old and had been on ART for 3.6 years. Participants expressed a range of ways in which masculine ideals and identity both promoted and inhibited their willingness and ability to engage in HIV care. Notions of masculinity and social identity were often directly tied to behaviors influencing care engagement. Such engagement fostered the reshaping of identity around a novel sense of clinic advocacy in the face of HIV. Our findings suggested that masculinities are complex, and are subject to changes and reprioritization in the context of HIV. Interventions focusing on reframing hegemonic masculinities and initiating treatment early may have success in bringing more men to the clinic.
Zissette, S; Watt, MH; Prose, NS; Mntambo, N; Moshabela, M
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