Masculinity and HIV disclosure among heterosexual South African men: implications for HIV/AIDS intervention
Relationships and constructions of masculinity are central to understanding the process of male HIV disclosure, which is an important step towards accessing HIV-related services. Data from in-depth interviews and focus-group discussions with 23 HIV positive, self-identified heterosexual, Black South African men were used to explore the disclosure process and how this process was negotiated in the context of constructions of masculinity. Of these men, 20 had disclosed to one or more persons, with partners and siblings being the preferred confidants. Disclosure was dependent on the acceptance of HIV status, perceived support and healthy relationships with others, HIV counselling and participation in educational and training activities. Nondisclosure was explained as a result of stigma, fear of rejection, discrimination, a lack of healthy relationships with others and lack of access to suitable disclosure strategies. Negative perceptions of HIV and hegemonic conceptions of masculinity hindered men from disclosing and seeking health services. Many men, however, managed to renegotiate their masculine identities to become responsible, knowledgeable HIV positive individuals, protecting their families and becoming community educators. Findings suggest the need to consider gendered, contextual, skills-building/income generating and guided interventions to promote male HIV disclosure and service uptake.