Male attitudes and behavioural change in Tanzania, in relation to HIV and AIDS : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Although there has been some encouraging progress towards combating the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the resulting Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in recent years, AIDS continues to cause premature death and hardship for many families. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 68 percent of the worldwide HIV infections, an estimated 22.5 million people (UNAIDS 2010:2). This thesis examines the relationship between men’s attitudes and behaviour in relation to HIV and AIDS. It is important to focus on men in the battle against HIV because men often control women’s sexual and reproductive health. Grieg (2005:1) and other commentators believe the socialization of boys and young men to be a major factor in the spread of HIV/AIDS. The ways in which boys and young men are socialised are strongly influenced by prevailing cultural norms.
Fieldwork was carried out in the Iringa region of the United Republic of Tanzania during June 2008. Interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with men of different ages and socio-economic backgrounds. Results showed that culture and influential role models strongly influence men’s attitudes and behaviour in relation to HIV and AIDS. This thesis confirms other research for example Silberschmidt (2001), who argued that sub-Saharan Africa is undergoing an identity crisis as changes in society have eroded men’s traditional role as hunter and provider. Many men are facing feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, lack of self-esteem and depression. Faced with these feelings of disempowerment, many men often resort to alcohol and extra-marital relationships, which increase the prevalence of HIV. One of the challenges facing those involved in reducing the spread of HIV is to help men face up to these feelings of inadequacy and develop a healthy lifestyle, despite changing social and economic conditions in 21st century sub-Saharan Africa.