Malawi: Aids Viewed As a Sign of Masculinity—Study

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, Apr. 15

Rural men in southern Malawi are convinced that being HIV-positive reflects well on their masculinity and sexual prowess, a new study has found.

According to Canada’s University of Alberta sociologist, Amy Kaler, a high number of sexually active young men say they are HIV-positive without having any medical evaluation or signs of AIDS, and also have misperceptions about how the disease is spread.

“They assume, first, that [AIDS] is everywhere and will eventually kill everyone and second, that the disease is extremely infective and if one has been exposed to the virus, one’s days are numbered,” US television station NBC, quoted Kaler as saying.

Journals of recorded conversation, or passing reference about AIDS between the respondents, show that not only did they associate manliness with HIV, but one man even corrects another by saying that he had slept with all the desirable girls in one particular village, and would be the sole cause of an AIDS outbreak there.

However, Kaler stressed that since men in many parts of the world emphasise sexual activity and risk-taking in their daily conversation with one another, it was doubtful that the Malawian men’s attitudes were unique.

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