Some say that men in rural Africa are a demographic too difficult to reach with HIV services.
But in order to reach ambitious UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets, reaching hard-to-serve populations of adult men with HIV testing and treatment is critical.
90-90-90 with text2Unlike women who are tested for HIV while pregnant and during sick child visits, men don’t have frequent contact with the healthcare system. HIV-positive men often seek help for the first time when they are too sick to benefit from early treatment. As a result, men are disproportionately represented among AIDS deaths across Sub-Saharan Africa.
In Malawi, only 53% of males report having been tested for HIV compared to 72% of females.
GAIA is solving this challenge in rural Mulanje District by bringing mobile clinics directly to places where men traditionally gather: work sites, sporting events, places of faith, and markets. Enlisting the help of male peers and community leaders to destigmatize HIV and promote male testing, GAIA’s hosts special HIV testing events providing men with convenient and confidential services. Often, men are accompanied by their female partners who want to receive couples testing.
On Saturday, July 23rd, GAIA conducted a male-targeted testing clinic at a local mosque in the village of Drawesi where a total of 34 people were tested, including 13 first-time testers. Two of the 25 men tested learned that they are HIV-positive. Both men received counseling and were linked to a government ART facility for initiation onto treatment.
A GAIA follow up coordinator was assigned to the men for case management, ensuring that each has the support he needs to begin a successful life-long treatment regimen. This event follows two record weekends for the male target testing program, during which we piloted the use of electronic data collection using a mobile app on android devices.
At the events, over 370 people were tested and nearly two thirds were men. Roughly 5% have tested positive and have been referred for treatment at these events, with similar rates among men and women.
Our success in reaching men at the mosque is yet another example of how this seemingly unreachable population is willing and able to get tested when testing opportunities are tailored with men in mind.
GAIA President & CEO