Men the next focus of HIV/AIDS prevention

Men’s self-image as strong, sexually active risk-takers means they are more likely to die from HIV/AIDS than women, experts said yesterday, calling for more HIV workplace testing to reach men and greater efforts to change gender norms.

Although six out of 10 Africans with HIV are women, men are 25% more likely to die from the disease, according to research by the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies in South Africa, which has the world’s biggest Aids epidemic.

Dean Peacock, founding director of South African advocacy group Sonke Gender Justice, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation the majority of people who don’t access services are men – which is bad for everyone.

Greater efforts also need to be made to reach men who have sex with men (MSM), who are 19 times more likely to be HIV positive than the general population but find it hard to access services due to stigma and discrimination, the paper said.

Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries.

A recent study found only one in 10 HIV positive MSM in some South African provinces was on anti-retroviral therapy.

“We have to change the laws,” said South African judge Edwin Cameron, who is living with HIV and gay.

“You impede access to treatment and effective response to the epidemic through these antiquated persecutions.”

Men will soon make up almost 70% of Aids-related deaths in some high-prevalence countries, the paper said.