Male prostitution and HIV/AIDS in Durban.
This thesis sets out to describe and discuss male street prostitution as it occurs in Durban. The aim is to examine to what degree male street prostitutes are at risk of HIV infection, and make appropriate recommendations for HIV intervention. The field data, gathered through participant observation, revealed significant differences between the two research sites, refiecting broader race and class divisions in the South African society. At the same time, the in-depth case studies of the individual participants suggest that they share similar socio-economic life histories characterised by poverty and dysfunctional families, and hold similar world-views. The research was conducted within a social constructionist framework, guided by theories of human sexuality. Yet, sexuality was not the framework within which the male street prostitutes in Durban attached meaning to their profession. Professing to be largely heterosexual, the respondents engaged in homosexual sexual acts without considering themselves to be homosexual, reflecting and amplifying the fluid nature of human sexuality. It was, however, within an economic framework that the male street prostitutes who participated in this study understood and interpreted their profession. The sexual aspect of their activities was far less important than the economic gain to them, and prostitution was interpreted as a survival strategy, A significant finding of this research is that male street prostitutes in Durban face a considerably higher risk of exposure to HIV from their non-paying sexual partners (lovers) than from their paying sex partners (clients). The research participants all had a good knowledge of HIV and the potential danger of transmission whilst engaging in unsafe commercial sex. In their private love lives, the participants were less cautious about exposing themselves and their partners to HIV infection, hence the conclusion that the respondents face a greater threat of HIV infection from their lovers than from their clients. Finally, male street prostitutes, like female street prostitutes, do however face some risk of HIV infection as a result of their involvement with commercial sex. The illegal nature of their activities is considered to contribute to an environment conducive to the transmission of HIV, and this thesis argues for a change in the legal status of commercial sex work as a primary component of HIV intervention in this vulnerable group of men and women.