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Fact Sheet: Men and HIV/AIDS

December 1, 2000

Fathers and sons, brothers and friends, husbands and same-sex partners, politicians and community leaders -- men have much to contribute to the fight against the spread of HIV.

Compelling reasons to focus on men and AIDS:

  • HIV infections and AIDS deaths in men worldwide outnumber those in women on every continent except sub-Saharan Africa.

  • All over the world, men generally have more sex partners than women; therefore, an HIV-positive man is more likely to pass on the virus to a greater number of people than a woman.

  • Men who have unprotected sex with men still represent the largest risk category for infection with HIV.


  • Transmission of HIV by heterosexual contact now accounts for an increasing proportion of AIDS cases in the U.S..

  • HIV is more easily transmitted from a man to a woman than from a woman to a man.

  • 80% of people worldwide who inject drugs are men; sharing of needles/syringes among injection drug users causes almost 30% of U.S. HIV infections.

  • Young men are at particular risk -- about 1 in 4 people with HIV is a young man under age 25.

Men Should Be Encouraged To . . .

  • Accept greater responsibilities for being providers of care and support for their families

  • Take a greater role in helping end the spread of HIV

  • Change harmful sexual stereotypes (of male dominance, women's roles, homophobia, etc.)

  • Change the way they view risk taking, sexuality and violence

  • Address their sexuality honestly and responsibly

  • Be a positive role model for boys

  • End their silence on issues of sexuality

  • Support one another

Men's Relations with Women

While men's sexual and intimate relationships with women vary from culture to culture, and while many men live in monogamous relationships, other men may have multiple partners or have casual sex with other women or with men.
  • The secrecy that often surrounds male infidelity and the stigma and shame that surrounds AIDS significantly increase the risk of HIV to wives and long-term women partners.

  • Women are vulnerable to men's greater economic and social power and to unequal gender relations in many cultures.

  • Often it is men who decide when and with whom to have sex and whether to use condoms, leaving many women with little or no control over their potential exposure to HIV.

  • Men are most often the perpetrators of sexual violence, whether in ongoing relationships, casual sex or situations of war or civil unrest.

  • Between 12%-25% of women worldwide have experienced forced sex (attempted or completed) by an intimate partner or ex-partner.

  • Initiatives to empower women to take greater control over their sexual lives cannot stand alone. Public health officials believe that improving the status of women requires greater cooperation from men.

Real Men Don't Get Sick

Men are often reluctant to acknowledge a health problem and seek help. Men and boys often see themselves as invulnerable to illness or risks and may ignore or delay seeking help when ill. Some men believe it is not "manly" to worry about risky behaviors or to bother with condoms.

Support for Men and AIDS

Men are often less likely than women to seek help from others. However, men with AIDS are more likely to receive care from family than are women with AIDS and are less likely to care for others.

Men should be encouraged to engage in open discussion of their sexuality and their sexual health, as well as their overall emotional and physical well being. Men must also be encouraged to be supportive of one another and of their loved ones. All men, especially men at risk of HIV, need the support of their families and loved ones as they face their sexual attitudes and risk-taking behaviors.

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This article was provided by American Association for World Health. It is a part of the publication AIDS: All Men -- Make a Difference!.