Community care worker approaches to working with HIV-positive male clients in Cape Town, South Africa

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University of Cape Town

Caring is typically constructed as a feminized practice, resulting in women shouldering the burden of care-related work. Health-seeking behaviours are also constructed as feminine and men have poorer health outcomes globally. Employing men as carers may not only improve the health of the men they assist but also be transformative with regard to gendered constructions of caring. This working paper adds to the small but growing literature on men in caring by focusing on men as community care workers (CCWs) and their male clients. The empirical analysis draws on the perspectives of eight CCWs and three of their male clients from the Cape Town area. Using semi-structured interviews and observational home visits, this study explores the strategies that community care workers (CCWs) employ in providing support to HIV-positive male clients. In trying to avoid interrupting clients’ performance of hegemonic masculine norms, CCWs used techniques such as indirectly broaching sensitive subjects, acting friendly and being clear about the intention of their work.