Windhoek – Men are less likely to take an HIV test, less likely to access antiretroviral therapy, and more likely to die of AIDS-related illnesses than women.
Globally, less than half of all men living with HIV are on treatment, compared to 60 percent of women. Studies show that men are more likely than women to start treatment late, to interrupt treatment and to be lost to treatment follow-up.
These were remarks of UNAIDS country director Namibia Barihuta Tharcisse during World Aids Day commemorations hosted by City of Windhoek under the theme, ‘Right to Health’. With this year’s commemoration the focus is on men who were encouraged to get tested, know their status and if HIV positive, to go on treatment.
“When people are not on treatment they are more likely to transmit HIV. In Namibia adult testing for women has increased up to 78%, when it is only 62% for men,” Barihuta remarked. Barihuta added that the cycle of HIV transmission from women to men, aged 25 and above, involved men transmitting the virus to young girls. The cycle continues as the young girls transmit the virus to young boys, and when aging to men above 25 years.
“The empowerment of young girls combine with male engagement will break the chain of transmission,” noted Barihuta.
Constituency development committee member Bartholomeus Kauahuma encouraged men to go for testing, especially HIV and other diseases, as well. He said men should lead by example and not keep illness to themselves and suffer in silence and leave their loved ones behind.
“If you go for testing earlier, this will help you start treatment earlier and in this regard you will be helped and live longer, because each and everyone of us wants to live longer,” Kauahuma advised.