Masculinity and HIV Risk Among Homeless Men in Los Angeles

Published In: Psychology of Men and Masculinity, v. 14, no. 2, Apr. 2013, p. 156-167

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2012

by David P. Kennedy, Ryan Andrew Brown, Daniela Golinelli, Suzanne L. Wenzel, Joan S. Tucker, Samuel Wertheimer

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HIV continues to be a serious public health problem for men who have sex with women (MSW), especially homeless MSW. Although consideration of gender has improved HIV prevention interventions, most of the research and intervention development has targeted how women's HIV risk is affected by gender roles. The effect of gender roles on MSW has received relatively little attention. Previous studies have shown mixed results when investigating the association between internalization of masculine gender roles and HIV risk. These studies use a variety of scales that measure individual internalization of different aspects of masculinity. However, this ignores the dynamic and culturally constructed nature of gender roles. The current study uses cultural consensus analysis to test for the existence of culturally agreed upon masculinity and gender role beliefs among homeless MSW in Los Angeles, as well as the relationship between these beliefs and HIV-related behaviors and attitudes. Interviews included 30 qualitative and 305 structured interviews with homeless MSW in Los Angeles's Skid Row area. Analysis identified culturally relevant aspects of masculinity not represented by existing masculinity scales, primarily related to barriers to relationships with women. Behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge related to HIV were significantly associated with men's level of agreement with the group about masculinity. The findings are discussed in light of implications for MSW HIV intervention development.

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