How to End the HIV Epidemic When Men Are 'Missing but in Action'
February 26, 2016
Where are the men?
In HIV responses across the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, the subject of men comes up often -- as sugar daddies who drive HIV acquisition among school girls, as partners of pregnant women living with HIV, and as men who beat their wives -- or, as it is more often put in some circles, as perpetrators of "GBV."
But their numbers -- among people living with HIV who have been diagnosed, are in care and receiving life-saving and virus suppressing antiretroviral treatment -- reflect neither the impact of HIV among them, or the role of their disproportionate absence from the treatment rolls in driving ongoing incidence, presentations here have highlighted.
On Thursday, a presentation at the 2016 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections examining the impact of antiretroviral treatment coverage on HIV incidence in South Africa noted findings in one study showing the overwhelming majority of people who didn't know their partners' HIV status were women. The reason for this knowledge gap, Catherine Oldenberg who presented those findings, noted, is the greatly lower numbers of men who have been tested.
The day, before findings from the Pop ART (or HPTN 072) trial examining the impacts of full coverage in South Africa and Zambia communities of intensive HIV interventions -- including combination prevention, testing, and treatment on infection rates -- had highlighted some of the reasons for that. In that trial, community workers offering access to those services found a gap -- while 90 percent of women in the eligible population reached accessed those services, only 77 percent of men did.
The difference wasn't because fewer men wanted services, Helen Ayles of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said, but because fewer men were found.
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