Isle VP decries lower participation of men in HIV testing

Isle VP decries lower participation of men in HIV testing

ZANZIBAR'S   First Vice-President, Othman Masoud Othman has tasked researchers to find out the reasons behind lower participation of men in HIV testing.

The VP said that despite the national and global efforts to encourage all people to take part in the fight against HIV/AIDS, available data shows that men's participation is relatively lower compared to women.

"This gap is a serious drawback towards achieving the national and global goals to control the epidemic,” the VP   said as he addressed a rally in Kidimni village, Unguja Central District to mark the World AIDS Day.

He said that although HIV prevalence in Zanzibar remains at 0.4 per cent, the spread is still high in 'Most At-Risk' groups, mainly drug users and commercial sex workers.

The World Health Organisations (WHO) says HIV remains a major public health issue that affects millions of people worldwide, and that although the world has made significant progress in recent decades, important global targets for 2020 were not met.

Division, disparity and disregard for human rights are among the failures that allowed HIV to become and remain a global health crisis, WHO says, and that now, Covid-19 is exacerbating inequities and disruptions to services, making the lives of many people living with HIV more challenging.

The theme for this year's World AIDS Day is "End inequalities. End AIDS".  With a special focus on reaching people left behind, WHO and its partners are highlighting the growing inequalities in access to essential HIV services.

Celebrating the World AIDS Day 2021, WHO is calling on global leaders and citizens to rally to confront the inequalities that drive AIDS and to reach people who are currently not receiving essential HIV services.

The First Vice President said that Zanzibar, through its Zanzibar AIDS Commission (ZAC), managed to achieve the 90 per cent of all people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, but only 76 per cent of men know their status. Countries are required to reach the target by 2030.

The First Vice President said that the Isles has recorded positive achievement in controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS, such as decrease in the number of deaths, from 119 in 2015 to 74 last year; and new infection from 366 in 2010 to 177 in 2020/2021.

He noted that stigma is still high with more than 20 per cent of people living with HIV being bullied and humiliated.

The Sate Minister, Office of the First Vice President, Dr Saada Mkuya Salum said that out of the 166,566 who received counseling on HIV between January and September this year, 86,947 were women; and out of 7,481 on ARV, only 2,427 are men.

"We encourage men to show up," the Minister said as the UNAIDS representative in Zanzibar, Dr George Loy commended Zanzibar for the ongoing efforts to control HIV, advising the government to review the 'HIV/AIDS law and policy' a step towards addressing some of the challenges.

Author: DAILY NEWS Reporter in Zanzibar

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