Church representatives' perspectives on masculinities in the context of HIV: the case of the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa

Afr J AIDS Res. 2016 Sep;15(3):273-81. doi: 10.2989/16085906.2016.1203341.


Despite a growing body of literature related to church leaders challenging dominant norms of masculinities that may enable the spread of HIV, research on masculinity issues among African church representatives who are policy makers is scarce. The objectives of this study were to explore the perspectives on masculinities held by church representatives within the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA) and to identify strategies they used to transform masculinities in their respective churches. Qualitative interviews were carried out with 14 church representatives belonging to the EHAIA International Reference Group. These interviews were analysed using thematic analysis and four themes were identified: "barriers to challenge masculinities" may contribute to the spread of HIV; "counterproductive conservative church leadership" fails to challenge dominant forms of masculinities; "facilitators to challenge masculinities" perceived as slowly changing men and "an evolving hope for gender equality" would be perceived in certain marital relationships. The latter two were viewed as positive approaches resulting from masculinity workshops and male priests disclosing their HIV-positive status. This research highlights strategies that may help male church-goers challenge masculinities, support gender equality and, improve the lives of men and women in the context of HIV.

Keywords: Africa; EHAIA; HIV transmission; church representatives; gender; masculinities.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Christianity
  • Clergy / psychology*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Masculinity*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires