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30 January 2021

The power and process of shifting gender norms: Insights from a randomized controlled trial in South Africa

While the powerful role that inequitable gender norms play in HIV risk, relationships, and gender-based violence is well established, the effects of gender norms on other aspects of the HIV care continuum are less well understood. These include whether and how endorsement of inequitable and restrictive gender norms affects HIV testing and treatment, which specific dimensions of gender norms are salient for HIV service use and how this differs for women and men, and whether efforts to change gender norms at the community level can lead to increases in HIV testing and treatment and decreases in gender-based violence. Project SOAR reports on findings from a randomized controlled trial of Tsima ra rihanyu (“working together for health”), a three-year community mobilization program for treatment as prevention that aimed to address the social barriers to HIV testing and treatment in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. In this report we explore the types of gender norms that are salient for women and men, how these relate to HIV testing and treatment, and the pathways through which gender norms operate to affect women’s and men’s HIV service use and experience and perpetration of intimate partner violence.


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