Male testing critical for HIV fight

MASVINGO - Voluntary counselling and testing by men is critical in ending the HIV epidemic, the ministry of Health has said.

Masvingo acting provincial medical director, Kudakwashe Masinire, told a gathering in Masvingo on Thursday under the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric Aids Foundation that testing by men is the sole entry point to ending the HIV epidemic.

“The rate of men coming for HIV testing is low and they come for testing when the disease has gone out of hand.

“Zimbabwe will progress if men came out in their numbers and got tested early especially with their pregnant wives and sexual partners,” said Masinire.

“Men are impatient creatures and are not prepared to wait for health services as compared to women.
“Disclosure is the biggest challenge for women. And this is a missed opportunity for the couples to get full care. If we get a lot of couples tested we will be able to eliminate HIV/Aids,” he said.

The ministry’s National Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission HIV Care and Treatment coordinator, Angela Mushavi, said 60 percent of people living with HIV are women.

“The proportion of male partners who were tested in antenatal counselling increased from 10 percent in 2011 to 16 percent last year.

“A total of 66 352 male partners compared to 405 652 pregnant women were tested and counselled,” she said
In Zimbabwe, there are more women living with HIV and yet more men are dying from the virus, according to the National Aids Council (NAC).

Zimbabwean men have been known for shying away from health services particularly HIV testing and male circumcision programmes that help prevent them from being infected with HIV/Aids.

One in every 10 Zimbabwean lives with HIV, with only 50 percent of them accessing treatment, according to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health survey.

Globally, a record 9,7 million people living with HIV were accessing treatment in 2012 compared to just over 8,1 million in 2011 –– an increase of 1,6 million in one year alone.

New guidelines from the World Health Organisation gave recommendations that people living with HIV should start antiretroviral therapy much earlier, and immediately in some instances.

Under this new guidance, some 26 million (25,9 million) people will now be eligible for antiretroviral therapy, an additional 9,2 million from the previous 2010 guidance.

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