Focus on sexual wellness as Men’s Day is observed

Only 33 percent of people taking HIV tests are male, the City said yesterday as International Men’s Day was marked with an appeal to men to take care of their reproductive health and to increase their support for their spouses and families.

Expanding on the theme for the day, Reproductive Health for Men as Individuals, Fathers, Brothers, Hus­bands and Partners, Jabu Baloyi, spokesperson for the Commission for Gender Equality said men were often subjected to impossible and contradictory expectations.

He said studies had also shown that men tend to neglect matters relating to reproductive health, are likely to refuse and ignore advice on health matters or be reluctant to visit health-care facilities such as clinics and hospitals until it was very late to seek medical assistance.

“Men are often under pressure not to succumb to ill-health or to show signs of physical incapacity, lest these are seen as signs of weakness, often regarded as undesirable in men,” Baloyi said.

“Society needs not only healthy women, but also healthy men to defeat gender inequality.”

The City said a challenge was convincing more men to get tested for HIV, especially older men.

“The statistics echo sentiments that men do not feel comfortable or welcome at clinics, surrounded by women and young children. These are very real issues and we cannot ignore them,” said mayco member for Health Siyabulela Mamkeli.

The city has five male clinics – in Gugulethu, Bellville, Kuyasa Transport Interchange, and Site B and Site C in Khayelitsha where men are informed about safe sex and are offered HIV testing and counselling, and Sexually Transmitted Infection diagnosis and treatment.

Sonke Gender Justice Senior Pro­grammes Specialist Bafana Khumalo said the MenCare campaign, which began in 2011, aimed to help men understand they needed to be with their partners during and after pregnancy

“The campaign encourages men to play a prominent role in the lives of their children from the news of the pregnancy We are seeing positive results,” he said.