Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

November 2005


Published in Culture, Health, and Sexuality, 7:6 (November/December 2005), pp. 585–598. Copyright © 2005 Taylor & Francis. Used by permission. DOI: 0.1080/13691050500250198


The goal of the current study was to explore notions of masculinity and their linkages to HIV/AIDS among Owambo men and women in Namibia, where an estimated one-fifth of 15–49 year-olds have acquired HIV. Thirteen open-ended interviews and three focus groups were conducted with 50 male and female participants aged 19–50 in rural and urban Namibia. Qualitative analysis revealed six central themes: the evolving meanings of masculinity, power dynamics between men and women, women as active agents, the tension between formal and informal education and HIV transmission, alcohol and masculinity, and the blending of masculinity and explanations of HIV and AIDS. The findings suggest both direct and indirect linkages between notions of masculinity and AIDS, and highlight the need for prevention efforts that focus on providing alternative avenues for attaining culturally recognized markers of masculinity.