The National Aids Council has embarked on an HIV awareness campaign programme targeting men and boys in rural areas.
Dubbed “Behavioural change community monitors,” the programme seeks to encourage men to go for HIV testing to curb new infectious and reduce deaths related to the pandemic.
The council is running a trial of the campaign in Seke district where an average of 300 men and boys seek HIV-related services every month, with more being reached through the use of community behaviour change agents who are working with NAC.
“Generally, healthy behaviour is poor among men. But due to this initiative, there has been an improvement in the number of men accessing HIV and Aids services.
The programme started in July under the Global Fund support scheme and is targeting 10 out of 21 wards which are hotspots in Seke district,” the district Aids co-ordinator, Florence Nyandoro said.
Under the programme, the agents approach men at various places to impress upon them the need to get HIV services as well as cancer screening.
Nyandoro said although the programme was in its infancy, NAC noted achievements as more than 300 men were now seeking HIV-related services every month in the district.
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”We do door-to-door campaigns and have seen that the appetite for such services are high. We also go to public gatherings to address men,” Nyandoro said.
There are 1,4 million people estimated to be living with HIV and of these 1 119 909 adults and children were on anti-retroviral therapy by December 2017.
The country targets to reduce HIV infections and deaths by 90% by 2020 and end Aids by 2030.
For years, the focus has been on girls and women who constitute the larger section of those living with HIV and Aids.
But recent research has shown that leaving out men and boys in the fight against HIV/Aids exposed young girls to new HIV infections.