The multidimensionality of masculine norms in east Zimbabwe: implications for HIV prevention, testing and treatment

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Research and intervention studies suggest that men face challenges in using HIV services in sub-Saharan Africa. To address these challenges, quantitative measurements are needed to establish the individual-level determinants of masculine norms and their implications for HIV prevention and treatment programmes.


Survey questions for four masculine norms identified in qualitative research were included in a general-population survey of 3116 men in east Zimbabwe, 2012–2013. Two sets of regression analyses were conducted in an structural equation modelling framework to examine: which sociodemographic characteristics were associated with high scores on each masculinity factor; and how high scores on these masculinity factors differed in their associations with sexual risk behaviour and use of HIV services.


Sociodemographic characteristics associated with high factor scores differed between masculine norms. In HIV-negative men, more men with scores exceeding one standard deviation above the mean (high scorers) for antifemininity than men with scores under one standard deviation below the mean (low scorers) took steps to avoid infection (61 versus 54%, P < 0.01). Fewer high than low scorers on social status reported a recent HIV test (69 versus 74%, P = 0.04). In HIV-positive men, more high scorers on sex drive had been diagnosed (85 versus 61%, P = 0.02), were on antiretroviral treatment (91 versus 62%, P = 0.04), and were in AIDS groups (77 versus 46% P = 0.03).


HIV treatment, prevention programmes looking to engage men must consider the multidimensionality of masculine norms. The scale developed in this study is robust and can be used by other large multipurpose surveys to examine masculine social norms.

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