The Case of the Missing Men

Michelle Poulin, University of North Texas
Susan Watkins, University of California, Los Angeles

For years, poor women have been targeted for HIV prevention and men largely ignored.Women’s poverty and lack of social power are primary reasons cited. Recent evidence weakens this justification; Demographic and Health Surveys in several countries show that wealthy men are more likely to be infected than poor women. Yet the focus of interventions continues to be on women. Why are the men missing? We first use data from rural Malawi to show that men with money have a higher probability of HIV infection compared to those poorer. We then consider social constructions of gender in international policy documents, and then trace their echoes in Malawi documents, newspapers, and interviews with national elites in the government and AIDS NGOs. Finally, we use ethnographic data that show that men with money are perceived as primary drivers of the epidemic. More attention should be paid to men’s wealth rather than women’s poverty.

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Presented in Session 8: Gender and Reproductive Health