Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 44, Issue 7, pp 1979–1990 | Cite as

Assessing the Role of Masculinity in the Transmission of HIV: A Systematic Review to Inform HIV Risk Reduction Counseling Interventions for Men Who Have Sex with Men

  • Robert J. Zeglin
Original Paper


HIV affects over 1.2 million people in the United States; a substantial number are men who have sex with men (MSM). Despite an abundance of literature evaluating numerous social/structural and individual risk factors associated with HIV for this population, relatively little is known regarding the individual-level role of masculinity in community-level HIV transmission risk. To address this gap, the current analysis systematically reviewed the masculinity and HIV literature for MSM. The findings of 31 sources were included. Seven themes were identified: (1) number of partners, (2) attitudes toward condoms, (3) drug use, (4) sexual positioning, (5) condom decision-making, (6) attitudes toward testing, and (7) treatment compliance. These factors, representing the enactment of masculine norms, potentiate the spread of HIV. The current article aligns these factors into a masculinity model of community HIV transmission. Opportunities for counseling interventions include identifying how masculinity informs a client’s cognitions, emotions, and behaviors as well as adapting gender-transformative interventions to help create new conceptualizations of masculinity for MSM clients. This approach could reduce community-level HIV incidence.


Masculinity HIV Men who have sex with men Gender-transformative Sexual orientation 



During the preparation of this article, the author received support from the District of Columbia Developmental Center for AIDS Research (P30AI087714).


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Counseling and Human DevelopmentGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

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