A large number of men from villages around the Chris Hani District, especially in Cala in the Eastern Cape, know their HIV statuses following the province’s recent Men’s Sector HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign at the Cala Indoor Sports Centre.
HIV Counselling and Testing at Cala
Organisers say they decided to hold the campaign in the small town after the provincial HIV testing statistics revealed the lowest number of men going for testing there. Eastern Cape Health Department Manager for HIV and Counselling Liziwe Lunyawo says, “Now we’re having men calling other men to go and test for HIV/AIDS, as we all know that testing and counselling is the entry point to prevention, treatment and support. “I hope that from now on men will support their wives and go with them when they go for testing, especially those that are pregnant, so that in the unfortunate incident of testing positive they go together to the programme of PMTCT,” he added.
Eastern Cape Men’s Sector chairperson Reverend Lulama Ntshingwa, who is also Brothers for Life Ambassador, says the response from men has been overwhelming. Lunyawo says, “Men are quite interested to talk among themselves in matters of men’s health. In the Eastern Cape, the last I heard 49 had died, that becomes a crisis. Research that was done shows that medical male circumcision reduces the chances of infection by 60%, therefore we’re encouraging men to go for circumcision and those that are about to go for initiation should go for medical checks.”The event was honoured by John Hopkins Health and Education South Africa, the Department of Health, the Easter Cape AIDS Council, Sonke
Gender Justice, Traditional Leaders and SANAC National Chairperson Bob Phato. South African National AIDS Council: Men’s Sector Coordinator Ps. Mbulelo Dyasi led more than 500 men to pledge publicly and support HIV counselling and testing, male circumcision and to reduce sexual violence against women and children.The event was broadcast live by Vukani Community Radio and SABC radio and also covered by Brothers for Life & SABC Education and the Mhlobowenene FM talk show. Sakhisizwe Municipality Local councillors, including the mayor and chiefs, pledged to support the Brothers for Life Campaign to engage men beyond the HIV campaign.The event was made successful by the Department of Health, Sakhisiwe Local Municipality, Capraway Development Agency and Johns Hopkins Health and Education South Africa and attended by 5 000 men and women.