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Fostering a healthy public for men and HIV: a case study of the Movement for Change and Social Justice (MCSJ)


  • Christopher J. Colvin

    () (University of Cape Town
    University of Virginia
    Brown University)

  • Myrna Pinxteren

    (University of Cape Town)

  • Mandla Majola

    (University of Cape Town)

  • Natalie Leon

    (Brown University
    South African Medical Research Council)

  • Alison Swartz

    (University of Cape Town)

  • Nonzuzo Mbokazi

    (University of Cape Town)

  • Mark Lurie

    (University of Cape Town
    Brown University)


This paper examines the recently formed Movement for Change and Social Justice (MCSJ) in the township of Gugulethu, in Cape Town, South Africa. MCSJ is a health and social justice movement that has an unusual trajectory—guided by the political principles and strategies of South Africa AIDS activism, inspired but also frustrated by the contemporary progressive public health activism, and catalysed by a university research partnership at the University of Cape Town (UCT) that focused on innovative ways of using health information to spur community and health system action to respond to issues of men, masculinity and HIV. This paper synthesises findings from participant observation, qualitative process evaluations of MCSJ’s work, and reflections from the UCT-based research team to develop a number of lessons about the challenges and opportunities in efforts to foster a healthy public for men and HIV. MCSJ’s approach builds on current modes and models of public health thinking while also pushing for more responsive, more inclusive, more sustained, and more locally rooted forms of practice. The paper identifies a range of enabling conditions for MCSJ’s work, describes the often delicate balancing act MCSJ has to manage in its work, and outlines some of the key strategies of this community–university partnerships that guided efforts to develop a healthy public for men and HIV. Lessons learned from this case study will be helpful for other efforts to promote and sustain engaged and impactful university–community collaborations to support the emergence of healthy publics.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher J. Colvin & Myrna Pinxteren & Mandla Majola & Natalie Leon & Alison Swartz & Nonzuzo Mbokazi & Mark Lurie, 2020. "Fostering a healthy public for men and HIV: a case study of the Movement for Change and Social Justice (MCSJ)," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 6(1), pages 1-8, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:palcom:v:6:y:2020:i:1:d:10.1057_s41599-020-0402-y
    DOI: 10.1057/s41599-020-0402-y

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stephen Hinchliffe & Mark A. Jackson & Katrina Wyatt & Anne E. Barlow & Manuela Barreto & Linda Clare & Michael H. Depledge & Robin Durie & Lora E. Fleming & Nick Groom & Karyn Morrissey & Laura Salis, 2018. "Healthy publics: enabling cultures and environments for health," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 4(1), pages 1-10, December.
    2. Higgins, J.A. & Hoffman, S. & Dworkin, S.L., 2010. "Rethinking gender, heterosexual men, and women's vulnerability to HIV/AIDS," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 100(3), pages 435-445.
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