By: Hendrina Kanyolo
Lack of male involvement in HIV/AIDS interventions has been identified as playing a role in ending the virus by 2030. UNAIDS. UNAIDS country director, Alti Zwandor stated that harmful masculinities are discouraging men from seeking care.
Zwandor said increasing gender-transformative programming is important to stop the pandemic. She made these remarks during the City of Windhoek World Aids 2022 commemoration on Tuesday in Windhoek.
She indicated that a total of 80 percent of women living with HIV were accessing treatment while only 70 percent of men with the virus were on treatment. Zwandor explained this has to do with health seeking behaviour of men.
"Transforming harmful masculinity and gender norms among men and boys will help reduce their HIV risk and it will also help reduce the risk and vulnerability of HIV among adolescent girls and young women," remarked Zwandor.
She further stated that the city has made key achievements in reducing HIV incidence among people aged 15-49 years old in Windhoek to 3.2 per 1000, much lower than the national average of 5.2 per 1000.
Despite this achievement, Zwando indicated the city still faces challenges with fewer male going for HIV check ups.
Speaking at the same event, CoW councillor and chairperson of the economic development public safety and citizens welfare advisory committee, Austin Kwenani said that the end of HIV/AIDS can only be achieved if the inequalities are tackled.
Kwenani stated that earlier this year, as a build up activity to world Aids day commemoration, the city held a men's engagement campaign in collaboration with UNAIDS and other stakeholders.
The campaign sought to engage men regarding their uptake of health services , gender-based violence and the provision of onsite health service , screening, including HIV testing. " The 2022 campaign focused on the need for male role models in the communities to be advocates for healthy relationships. At these sessions, men aged 18 and above were engaged in the dialogue regarding their uptake of health services as part of the campaign," stated Kwenani.
He said health services such as Covid-19 vaccinations, testing for blood pressure, prostate cancer,HIV and voluntary male circumcision were all available to men who participated in the campaign.