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Silent Suffering: Men and HIV

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 23 2014 (IPS) - Lungile Thamela knows how he got infected with HIV: through his reckless choice to have unprotected sex with his partner although he knew she was living with HIV.

He wanted to prove his manhood by having a baby. Instead, he got HIV and was crushed by the burden of self-stigma.

Gendered concepts of masculinity influence how men behave around HIV and within antiretroviral treatment (ART) programs.

As a result, the number of men on ART in South Africa in 2012 was half the number of women.

Why are South African men reluctant to test for HIV, to start and stay on ART, and to join support groups?

Is it that health services are not men-friendly? Is it an idea of masculinity that mandates men to be stoic, to hide pain as a weakness and not to talk about their feelings?

What defines the relationship of men to health services and how can it be improved?

In this video by Davison Mudzingwa, experts and activists like Thamela, analyze the factors that drive men’s gendered vulnerability to HIV in South Africa and suggest ways to reduce it.

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