A study by the National Aids Commission (NAC) has revealed that male unfriendly health services are reducing male participation in HIV-related activities and fuelling the spread of HIV.
Head of district coordination for NAC, Tione Chilambe, speaking during a research and best practices dissemination meeting held at the Civic House in Lilongwe, said the results of the NAC research and other researchers show that men in all the three regions are not willing to participate in HIV interventions.
“The study took place in Karonga and Mzimba in the Northern Region, Lilongwe and Salima in the Centre; and Thyolo and Blantyre in the Southern Region. It has revealed that the low involvement is a result of male unfriendly health services,” said Chilambe.
According to a brief on the study’s findings, the male unfriendly health services together with interventions developed around women has alienated men from HIV intervention.
Factors such as societal construction that health seeking behaviour is a sign of weakness, fear of stigma, and fear of losing their perceived status as breadwinners by men once found HIV positive, are also contributing to the situation.
“There are also emerging misconceptions with the coming of new interventions such as voluntary male circumcision. Some of such myths are that circumcised men cannot get HIV infection and that Holy water can replace anti retroviral therapy,” said Chilambe.
Teddie Kapesa, youth network coordinator for Lilongwe stressed the importance of getting men involved in HIV interventions considering that ‘67.2 percent of new infections occur in low risk heterosexual relationships, 12.2 percent in casual heterosexual relationships and 11.9 percent will result in high risk behaviour.’n