21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016)


Male Involvement for Better Access and Equity in the HIV Response

July 19, 2016

Luiz Loures

Luiz Loures, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director (Credit: International AIDS Society/Rogan Ward)

Gender inequalities and gender-based violence worsen the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV and other sexual and reproductive ill-health outcomes. Yet, men and boys are also affected by the HIV epidemic as a result of harmful gender norms and inadequate health systems to respond to the needs of men.

Men are less likely to access HIV testing, are often less likely to seek, use and adhere to antiretroviral therapy and tend to have a lower CD4 count at treatment initiation. Men are also more likely to die while on antiretroviral therapy.

During a session in Durban, South Africa, at the 21st International AIDS Conference, participants shared experiences from HIV programmes that have successfully employed male engagement as a strategy. They stressed the importance of an enabling policy environment that promotes inclusive and equitable health service delivery models. They agreed that the way forward to overcome obstacles is to engage leaders and stakeholders at the community and government levels to challenge harmful gender norms that impede gender equality and uptake of HIV services for all.

At the event, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Luiz Loures launched the Platform for Male Engagement in the HIV Response, which is the culmination of a broad global consultation convened by UNAIDS, the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Sonke Gender Justice with governments, civil society and United Nations and development partners. It will provide guidance on how to engage men and boys in the gender equality movement and to improve their access to, and utilization of, HIV and other health services for their own health needs and broader health and development.


There is no biomedical science that will advance human rights and gender equality.

-- Luiz Loures, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director

Men's low health-seeking behaviour is a public health threat.

-- Johan Carlsson, Director General, Public Health Agency of Sweden

We are all responsible for protecting young women and adolescent girls from HIV, from policy-makers to community leaders. We need to identify men as role models to mentor young men.

-- Khanya Mabuza, Executive Director, National Emergency Response Council on HIV and AIDS, Swaziland

We need to have open conversations about sexual and reproductive health and rights with religious and community leaders and to scale up community programmes to address gender inequality and gender-based violence.

-- Bafana Khumalo, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Sonke Gender Justice, South Africa

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This article was provided by UNAIDS. It is a part of the publication The 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016). Visit UNAIDS' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.

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