Adhering to common standards of masculinity is linked with less HIV-related stigma among heterosexual Nigerian men, according to a small study. Publishing their findings in BMC Public Health, researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 17 heterosexual men living with HIV in Nigeria, all of whom were taking antiretrovirals.

The men ranged in age between 30 and 57 years old.

Those who were diagnosed with HIV after having been sick were more likely to say they experienced isolation, stigma and feelings of being less than a man. Those whose diagnosis followed the diagnoses of immediate family members were less likely to experience stigma related to the virus and more likely to educate others about the virus.

If the men adhered to masculine norms, they were less likely to report stigma.

“The prevailing ideal of what it means to be a man is that a real man is supposed to be strong, not weak; is supposed to be healthy, not unhealthy; is supposed to have a job, not stay at home,” the study’s head, Titilayo Okoror, PhD, an associate professor of Africana studies at Binghamton University, State University of New York, said in a press release. “Men that were sick for a long time before they tested positive for HIV were more likely to report being stigmatized against or being isolated because they were sick for so long."

To read the study, click here.

To read a press release about the study, click here.