Men, gender, and HIV prevention - Articles by Erin Stern

The following collection of articles is based on a narrative study conducted with 75 South African men and women to yield more nuanced, diverse and contextualised understandings of men’s sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in order to provide a basis for addressing the gendered aspects of HIV prevention. The narratives highlight the diversity and fluidity of men and women’s lived experiences while also demonstrating the range of social and cultural norms that structure sexuality and SRH. The findings provide a number of insights to inform how programmes, policies and services can better engage men in SRH including HIV prevention and care. Especially, the study points to the value of a narrative approach to more deeply understand men and women’s sexual risk and agency and the social structures, meanings and experiences that underlie these. ‘The use of narratives to uncover the dynamics of hegemony among South African Men’ published in the journal of Men and Masculinities explores in-depth three cases that provide a platform for understanding how men both conform to and resist gender norms that influence their SRH. ‘The relationship between hegemonic norms of masculinity and men's conceptualization of sexually coercive acts by women in South Africa’ published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence illuminates men’s experiences of pressurized sex in a heterosexual context, and how these could influence men’s sexual risk-taking, including their use of sexual coercion against women. ‘Experiences and conceptualizations of sexual debut from the narratives of South African men and women in the context of HIV/AIDS’ published in the African Journal of AIDS Research (AJAR) investigates how men and women experienced and attributed meaning to their sexual debut, their SRH practices at sexual debut, and the underlying gendered norms and expectations that shape these. ‘Gender differences in South African men and women’s sources and evaluation of information related to sex and HIV risk’ published in the journal Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning concerns itself with men’s and women’s informal sources and content of SRH, and gendered divergences regarding accessibility, evaluation, and impact of such information. ‘Sexual and reproductive health perceptions and practices as revealed in the sexual history narratives of South African men living in a time of HIV/AIDS’ published in SAHARA J: Journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS explores men’s SRH risk perceptions, awareness, and practices and offers insights to more effectively engage men in SRH prevention and care. ‘The relational dynamics of hegemonic masculinity among South African men and women in the context of HIV’ published in Culture, Health and Sexuality critically assesses how men and women negotiate gendered norms and how this affects their SRH. The findings illustrate that men’s and women’s SRH is largely dependent on the type and quality of their relationships and that HIV-risky dominant male norms should be addressed relationally for the sake of better SRH outcomes.