Tackling HIV and gender violence


UNC researchers are evaluating the impact of community programs to reduce gender inequity in rural South Africa.

June 3, 2014 — In the northeast of South Africa, in rural Bushbuckridge sub-district, men and women are coming together to change their communities to reduce harmful gender norms to prevent intimate partner violence and lower HIV risk.

Investigators at UNC are working with a local NGO called Sonke Gender Justice to evaluate the impact of the ‘One Man Can’ campaign in 22 local South African communities. The campaign’s activities focus on increasing awareness about the relationship between gender inequities and HIV, and how the community—and especially men—can take action to address HIV risk and negative gender norms.

For this evaluation, half of the communities (11) were randomized to receive the  community mobilization intervention, and the 11 other communities serve as comparison communities. Community mobilization activities include workshops, door-to-door campaigns, soccer matches, street theater, murals, and video screenings and discussions led by a trained team of community mobilizers and volunteers.

To evaluate the impact of the intervention, a baseline survey was conducted in 2012 and an endline survey is being conducted now. The study is led by UNC epidemiologist Audrey Pettifor. Suzanne Maman, in the department of health behavior, is also an investigator. Several doctoral students are also involved in the research. One of these is Ann Gottert, who is exploring masculinity and risk behaviors such as alcohol use, intimate partner violence, and multiple sexual partners. Together with her husband Colby, Ann created three short films that tell powerful personal stories of transformation.

Final results of the study are expected in 2015.  Other collaborators on this research include the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and the University of the Witwatersrand.