NAC extends HIV prevention programs to Magunje

24 May, 2024 - 16:05 0 Views
NAC extends HIV prevention programs to Magunje

The Sunday News

The National Aids Council (NAC) has extended its HIV prevention programming to men to ensure they are part of efforts to prevent the virus from spreading.

This is being done under a program called male engagement strategy being implemented by NAC to tackle sexually transmitted and HIV infections. A pilot programme is underway in the predominantly farming community of Magunje, in Mashonaland West province.

HIV surveys show that men have poor health seeking behavior which makes them lag behind women in awareness of their HIV status.

The male engagement initiative is a mentorship program expected to educate men on gender equality, sexual reproductive health, harmful effects of gender based violence, and dangers of risky behavior.

The model is a response NAC hopes can help to reduce STIs and new HIV infections among men.

According to NAC, farmers in Magunje are most vulnerable to HIV because of their seasonal ability to pay for sex.

Mathew Gela, a behavior change expert in Magunje, who mentors to men in ward 10, said the programme had increased men’s knowledge about HIV, and to reduce stigma around it.

“There are a lot of positive changes as you heard them complaining that condoms are not adequate. There has been an increase in uptake of condoms sine we implemented the male engagement initiative.

“Use of pre-exposure and post exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention has also gone up. We commend our traditional leaders for taking the HIV fight seriously as it encourages more men to join our club,” said Gela, a behavior change communication motivator for NAC.

He said men have also found a safe space to discuss issues affecting them.

“You heard them openly asking for the supply of more condoms because now they know how to use them to protect themselves,” said Gela.

NAC District Aids Coordinator for Hurungwe, Admire Takawira said the male engagement programme was a way of boosting uptake of HIV services among men.

“We saw that there was a gap in HIV interventions for older men and we are into engaging them to increase the uptake of health services,” he said.

The men said they now know the importance of accompanying their pregnant wives to clinics to register early in order to protect the unborn child from HIV and STIs.

“All HIV interventions were targeting women and youths while leaving us behind but now we are also part of it,” said Gift Murapi, a ward 10 village head.

“Sex workers actually come to us when we get money from selling tobacco, so even without protection, we still take the risk,” said a beneficiary of the male engagement programme.

Magunje men have also formed a savings club through the model.

“We are now rearing and selling chicken through the funds we are getting from the club,” said Trymore Njanji.

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