Editorial: HIV-Aids education for men

THE Department of Health (DOH) recently reported that 739 new cases of HIV have been reported last May, 106 of which developed into full-blown Aids, while 52 people with HIV-Aids died.

This brings the total of cases for the first five months of the year to 3,802 HIV, 518 Aids, and 228 deaths.

Most is still among men-having-sex-with-men (MSM) accounting for 589 or 86 percent.

In comparison, 85 cases were acquired through transactional sex, of which 82 of those who acquired were male.

Homosexual contact was responsible for 357 cases, followed by bisexual contact with 232 cases, and 98 cases from heterosexual contact.

Injecting drug use (IDU) accounted for the transmission of 50 new cases; while two others were cases of mother-to-child transmissions.

The regions with the highest number of reported cases for May 2016 were the National Capital Region with 303 (41 percent) cases, Central Visayas with 108 (15 percent) cases, Calabarzon with 107 (14 percent) cases, Central Luzon with 58 (8 percent) cases, and Davao Region with 46 (6 percent) cases.

That the number continues to grow among MSM’s points toward lack of proper information.

Ours being a patriarchal society, there is very little stigma attached when a man buys condoms from a convenience store, and yet, many don’t.

That transactional sex accounts for just a little over 11 percent, and still it’s the men who account for most of the numbers, again shows lack of proper information.

Whether paid or not paid, it’s the men who are acquiring. This should send a clear message that the men are either not being reached by the proper information or are too stubborn to believe that anyone who engages in risky behaviors, whether male, female, paid or not, are likely to acquire HIV-Aids.

The World Health Organization (WHO), after noting the continued increase of HIV/aids worldwide, said, “Reducing new HIV infections means addressing the social and legal barriers that impede many people from accessing HIV services. It means tailoring prevention programmes so the right services reach the groups that are most vulnerable and affected, ensuring that individuals have easy access to approaches that work, and work for them.”

While womenfolk still have to be given proper information as well as access to prevention programs, the greater focus now should be men, simply because the numbers are showing that they are the ones who are not getting the information on better prevention.

Then, there is also the need to try new approaches, over and above the proven ones – condom use, absention, and having only one partner. WHO recommends exploiting new interventions “such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (Prep) – where antiretroviral drugs are used to protect people at high risk of becoming infected with HIV.”

The numbers have been growing by leaps and bounds among MSMs, this can no longer be ignored. Something has to be done and done fast to the widest audience possible.
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