Original Research

Gender and HIV/AIDS: Exploring Men and Vulnerability Towards Effective HIV/AIDS Policy Interventions and Sub-Saharan Africa

Ogochukwu Nzewi
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 1, No 1 | a24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v1i1.24 | © 2012 Ogochukwu Nzewi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 November 2016 | Published: 01 June 2012

About the author(s)

Ogochukwu Nzewi, University of Fort Hare, South Africa

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This article examines the dynamics between HIV/Aids gender policy strategies and the socio-political demands on HIV/Aids interventions in sub-Saharan Africa. Gender in HIV/Aids intervention seems inescapable. Nowhere else is this more marked than in the social dimensions of HIV/Aids prevention in sub-Saharan Africa. This has resulted in prevention strategies, which are encumbered by the reality of poverty, gender, access, power and the various debates on behavioural change. The social constructions of gender roles and power relations play a significant role in the region’s HIV /Aids dynamic. To this end, the mainstreaming of gender issues into national political, social and economic agenda and policies has been championed by international development and economic institutions. In developing HIV/Aids intervention policies, gender has also been mainstreamed, especially where epidemiological data show the disparity in infection rates between men and women, where women are seen as more susceptible to infection. The gendered approach to HIV/Aids appears to typecast women as the vulnerable and suffering face of HIV/Aids, while men, as ‘the other’, are generally regarded as the perpetuators and spreaders of the virus. While there is no doubt that women’s vulnerability in this milieu has been proven within known research evidence to exist, the neglect of institutional (social, cultural and economic) and historical vulnerabilities of African men’s realities are sometimes overlooked. Recently, greater focus has shifted to curbing infection rates in men based on new scientific evidence that shows that risk of transmission in circumcised men is reduced. The article argues that such movement towards showing areas of men’s vulnerability as a focus in HIV/Aids policy interventions may have the potential to shift the observed burden that current HIV/Aids policy thrusts inadvertently place on African women. The article will put forward an argument for ‘the vulnerable other’ in HIV/Aids policy intervention, suggesting a new continental policy strategy that sees men going from peripheral footnotes to the centre of HIV/Aids policy and intervention programmes.


Gender; HIV/AIDS Policy; Men vulnerability; Africa


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