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International News

S. Africa Tries to Enlist Men in AIDS Battle

November 6, 2009

To more effectively get the HIV prevention message to men, South Africa is expanding its efforts beyond the nation's health centers, which traditionally are used predominately by women.

"There is nothing especially made for men. We need to do something to talk to men," said Mzi Lwana, head of the Men and AIDS program at the HIV research unit at Witwatersrand University.

In the campaign, HIV educators are tackling head-on the traditional cherished image of the South African man as a hard-drinking, risk-taking seducer. The initiative is launching campaigns at football matches, in bars, and in the hostels that are home to male workers.

The "Brothers for Life" effort attempts to create a new ideal of the man who "makes no excuse for unprotected sex" and "respects his woman," according to a campaign ad.

Special clinics just for men are being established by the Men and AIDS program at Witwatersrand University.

"It is hard to go to a clinic and acknowledge your vulnerability as a man," said Dean Peacock, coordinator at Sonke Gender Justice Network, one of the groups involved in the outreach.

At the clinic, clients can meet with nurses, educators, and social workers, all males. "It is much easier to explain to a man," said one of the patients in the office of nurse Luthando Qobo.

The education efforts also encourage male circumcision, which has been shown to reduce the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission by 50 percent.

Campaign organizers say they are taking the initiative to target men in their education efforts in the absence of any strong leadership from the national government.

"We have the support of the government, but it is not yet taking the lead," said Lauren Jankelowitz of the research unit.

Back to other news for November 2009

Adapted from:
Agence France Presse
11.06.2009; Charlotte Plantive

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on HIV Prevention in South Africa

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