Strategy to increase the uptake of HIV services for men launched
The Ministry of Health and Social Services this week launched, the MenStar strategy to promote HIV testing and treatment among men.
The initiative which is a collaboration between the government and the Center for Disease Control (CDC)- Namibia implemented the strategy to increase the uptake of HIV services such as testing, treatment, care, and support to retain men on treatment and achieve durable viral load suppression.
“Social data indicates that men are lagging in the uptake of HIV services. This has resulted in poor retention to care and viral load suppression among men, subsequently contributing to new HIV infections in the general population, as well as increased morbidity and mortality among men,” said MoHSS deputy minister, Dr. Ester Muinjangue.
According to Muinjangue, the 2017 Namibia Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment report highlights that the 90-90-90 UNAIDS target was mostly achieved for women (90-97-92) compared to men (80-95-89).
“These findings indicate that men are lagging in the HIV cascade and negatively impacting the fight against HIV/AIDS in Namibia. As the country strives to end AIDS by achieving the 95-95-95 UNAIDS targets, focused interventions and strategies are required to close the specific gaps such as the low uptake of HIV services among men in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” she added.
Sociocultural norms and beliefs around masculinity have been noted as the main driver for the low uptake of HIV services, she said, adding that, the strategy will create platforms that will promote and support engagement and dialogue on HIV/AIDS awareness, adherence, and service delivery uptake at facility and community levels.
“These platforms will further implement activities that support the retention in care and viral load suppression among men as alluded to in the National Strategic Framework,” she concluded.