SAHARA-J: Journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS

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The pull of soccer and the push of Xhosa boys in an HIV and drug abuse intervention in the Western Cape, South Africa

Melissa Medich, Deborah Mindry, Mark Tomlinson, Mary Jane Rotheram- Borus, Jason Bantjes, Dallas Swendeman


There is growing interest in engaging men and boys in health and  development programmes targeting the intersection of HIV risk, substance abuse, and violence. Understanding the conceptualisations of masculinities or masculine identities that shape both behaviours and opportunities for intervention is central to advancing the global agenda to engage men in
health and development interventions. This paper examines an  intervention using soccer and job training to engage and deliver activities for HIV prevention, substance abuse, and gender-based violence in a South African township. A literature review provides theoretical, historical and social context for the intersection of gender, masculinity, soccer, violence, and sexual relationships. Qualitative data from in-depth interviews and focus groups is analysed using theoretical and contextual frames to elucidate the negotiation of shifting, contradictory, and conflicting masculine roles. Results highlight how changing risky, normative behaviours among young men is a negotiated process entailing men’s relationships with women and with other men.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; South Africa; masculinity; soccer; drugs; gender;  violence

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