News / Africa

Many African Men Fail to Get HIV Treatment

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, left, reacts as he is examined by a clinical nurse inside the 'Tutu Tester' mobile unit in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday Oct. 22, 2009. The Tutu Tester, is a mobile unit that test people for diabetes, obesity and HIV with resu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, left, reacts as he is examined by a clinical nurse inside the 'Tutu Tester' mobile unit in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday Oct. 22, 2009. The Tutu Tester, is a mobile unit that test people for diabetes, obesity and HIV with resu
Joe DeCapua

A new study says men in sub-Saharan Africa are not accessing HIV/AIDS treatment nearly as often as women. That means many are dying prematurely. Researchers are calling for a more balanced approach to gender in fighting the epidemic.

Edward Mills has spent many years in Africa supervising HIV/AIDS treatment programs. He said it became obvious who was receiving antiretroviral drugs and who wasn’t.

“Whenever you walk into a busy clinic, it’s almost exclusively women and children. And there might be one or two men there, who appear to be reluctant to be there. They’re frequently brought by their wives. And I had wondered, well, where are all the men? Maybe they’re accessing a men’s only clinic or something like that. And after several years of observing this, I came around to discussing this with my colleagues and they say, no, no, this is it. These are the men who show up. And they’re frequently only the ones who are brought by their wives,” he said.

Where and why?

Mills is an associate professor and Canada Research Chair of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa.

“Where are all of the men? And nobody seemed to know what the answer was. If all of these women are infected with HIV, surely there are men that are infected as well. Then I was able to look into testing centers, which is where people go and get tested. It’s frequently a different place than where they go and get treatment. There are a lot of men at the testing centers, but yet, you don’t see them at the clinics for antiretroviral care. And so somewhere in between the time of testing and the time of accessing clinical care we’re missing out on these men,” he said.

So, having learned where the men were, the next question Mills faced was why didn’t they go for life saving treatment?

He said, “There’s a lot of stigma about men having done something wrong. So, if a man has been found to be HIV positive, chances are he’s done something he shouldn’t have been doing. So, it’s either that you have a Christian country like Uganda, for example, where they shouldn’t have been having pre-marital sex, or they’ve been visiting sexworkers, or they’ve been having a relationship outside of their marriage. So, a variety of things that create stigma.”

Mills said that the men are often very shamed that they are HIV positive and afraid of what their wives will say. While many men do not go to HIV clinics, they do seek treatment. It’s just that the treatment they use won’t work.

“Men initially try to treat the HIV themselves. This is what we believe to be the case. And so they maybe go to pharmacies and they buy some aspirin or some Tylenol and they don’t want to accept that they they’ve got HIV. And so we’re doing a very bad job of educating men about HIV [being] a chronic disease that you’re going to die from if you don’t access care at the right time. And you can’t treat it yourself. Traditional medicines aren’t going to work, nor is buying cheap medicines at a pharmacy going to work,” he said.

Raising awareness

Mills said a new approach is needed to encourage African men to get treatment for HIV. He says possibly a major campaign by UNAIDS may be needed to jump start efforts.

“It’s possible that with the increase in male circumcision that’s going on that’s happening for young males, in their adolescents or early 20s, that that could be an opportunity to test them and counsel them and try to engage them in care. But to be honest I think we need to take this at a much larger scale; and we need to start implementing public health campaigns that are aimed at targeting men’s behavior around accessing health care,” he said.

Current HIV/AIDS campaigns for men are different than those for women.

“So, if you’re in Africa at the moment you will see public health campaigns aimed at men telling them to reduce the number of sexual partners that they’ve got. But it’s all about stopping certain activities. It’s not about implementing access to health care. And that’s probably where we need to go because you do see that for females a lot of the time. They’ll have campaigns on the roadside with big posters up saying if you’re pregnant to make sure you get an HIV test so you save your baby,” he said.

On the other hand, Mills said women should also receive the behavior change message. He cites HIV figures for discordant couples. These are couples where one person is HIV positive and the other is not.

“If we believe the way that the gender story has been told to us all these years, then in any discordant relationship you would expect the person who is HIV positive to be the male. But when you look at the evidence, actually about 50 percent of the time it’s the male and 50 percent of the time it’s the female. So, there are several different interpretations of this, but the best one is it appears that both genders go outside of their marriage,” he said.

He said women, whether African or not, often do better with health care because they are more in tune with their bodies. Also, women frequently learn of their HIV status while receiving care during pregnancy. Mills says when men access health care they are often in the late stage of disease.

Professor Mills has worked in Africa for 10 years, mostly in South Africa, Uganda and Rwanda.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid