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Men still reluctant to test for HIV - official

There is a growing concern that fewer men are willing to voluntarily test for HIV/AIDS.

For this reason, the department of gender affairs and District Multi Sectoral AIDS Committee hosted a strategic workshop here for engaging partners in coming up with new strategies to attract men in large numbers to go for testing.

Speaking during the workshop acting deputy district commissioner Mr Letshwao Mogorosi said Botswana was recording new infections everyday which meant more costs for the government. He also mentioned that Botswana was facing a challenge in combating HIV due to reduction of international assistance because Botswana was regarded as a middle income country.

He said according to a research made in Selebi Phikwe HIV prevalence stood at 27. 5 per cent which was worrisome. “Cases of teenage pregnancy are rising everyday which has a negative impact on the future of the girl child.

This rate at which girls are getting pregnant also indicates they are vulnerable to contracting HIV and the perpetrators that are to blame are men who at the same time are very reluctant to test,” he added.

He stated that in Selebi Phikwe they had come up with the ‘couple testing’ initiative ‘pioneered by Tebelopele Testing Centre and DMSAC which made a slight difference in numbers of men who came to test their status.

The district AIDS coordinator Mr Shathiso Daki said as a region they had discovered that the rising number of new infections was also fuelled by gender based violence or abuse where some women are forced to engage in unprotected sex resulting in a rising number of women getting infected.

He noted that in 2013 the HIV prevalence in Botswana was 18, 5 per cent and the rate of new infections stood at 1.3 per cent. He said the current prevalence rate in Selebi Phikwe rose to 27. 5 per cent from 26.5 per cent in 2008 the prevalence.

Also, he stated that a study carried out in 2016/2017 showed that only 13 348 people in Selebi Phikwe tested out of which 8 123 were women while men were 5225 which still shows that women outnumbered men in taking action against the HIV/AIDS scourge.

He further said out of the people who tested positive, men were 285 and women were 624 which was worrisome. He said this is a concern in that the spread of HIV was still taking place yet education on HIV/AIDS and behavioural change has been taking place.

He also noted that Selebi Phikwe was faced with challenges of increased STI cases. He explained that 627 tested positive for STIs where 424 were women and 203 were men. He said this had resulted in them setting up a team that would work with communities to tackle the challenges.

For her part member of the district health management team Ms Taboka Stanley a prescriber and HIV tester from Lesole Clinic said cases of HIV were rising  at an alarming rate and as DHMT they were working round the clock to sensitise people on possible ways to avoid more infections.

She said one of the challenges they faced was that adolescents who were pregnant did not need the consent of their parents to be tested for HIV or join the PMTCT programme resulting in some of them not testing and engaging in PMTCT.

She said as health practitioners they always recommended dual method of prevention to avoid new and re infections of HIV and unwanted pregnancies because they had realised that most women tended to only focus on preventing pregnancies than HIV which put them at risk of contracting the virus.

For his part Mr Lentswe Motsamai who is a senior officer in the women sector under the Gender Affairs Department stated that lower economic status some women find themselves in also made them vulnerable to abuse and have no say when it came to unprotected sex.

He said this resulted in a high prevalence rate on women than that of men which stands at 25 per cent.

He said other factors that contributed to new infections like excessive alcohol and drug consumption, multiple concurrent partners, rape and defilement still posed a serious challenge in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

As a department they are working round the clock to educate people in the community about  legal rights and HIV/AIDS prevention. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Gaone Busang

Location : SELEBI PHIKWE

Event : Workshop

Date : Mar 13 Mon,2017

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