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AIDS: Do Men Make the Difference? Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Juicykidd2008, Nigeria Apr 6, 2005
Health   Opinions
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To a large extent, HIV/AIDS activists have always placed the responsibility for HIV prevention on women, thus most HIV/AIDS related campaigns have always focused on women, that women all around the world found themselves at risk of HIV infection due to their lack of power to determine where, when and how sex takes place may have led to the erroneous but common perception that women are responsible for spreading the virus.

But certain facts on ground show that HIV infections and AIDS deaths in men outnumber those in women on every continent except sub-saharan Africa. By excluding men, prevention programmes have not responded to the need to ensure men’s accountability and role in curbing the spread of the virus.

Eka Esu-Williams of Horizons project and Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA) at a global dialogue for health which took place, in far away Hanover, Germany the year 2000 submitted that “African societies continue to promote and sustain the low status of women. And, African girls live largely in a world where they can only prove their worth by measures such as their ability, to find a spouse and to remain married, their ability to have children and to care for the family.”

“They are not expected to exert themselves at the family and community levels where men and boys, are accorded much greater authority and control, especially in sexual decision making and gender relations” with this kind of social conduct, African men have the primary responsibility to bring about the change that is needed, to make HIV prevention a more attainable goal. “Their involvement in prevention will have a key impact, in reducing HIV spread”. “Until men everywhere dare to care, the struggle against HIV/AIDS will only be half-won.”

But that women are more susceptible and more defenseless to the virus can no longer be contested.

1. Women are biologically more vulnerable as they have a large mucosa surface, exposed during sexual intercourse. HIV infected semen naturally contains a far higher concentration than a woman’s sexual secretions. This makes male to female transmission more efficient than female to male.
2. Women is epidemiologically receptive. Women have sex with older men who most likely would have had sexual contacts with many other partners.
3. Women are also epidemiologically exposed through blood transfusion during pregnancies and child birth. The above are just a few of many facts to prove the vulnerability of women to HIV/AIDS.

Why then the focus on men? This is because:

1. Enlisting men to prevent HIV infection is the surest way to change the course of the epidemic, as they are involved in almost every case of transmission, and almost have the power to protect themselves and their partners, women on the other hand are denied opportunities, when men refuse to use protection or to stop relationships with other people.
2. Men’s involvement is needed to empower women to protect themselves from HIV infection since the former is more likely to have more sex partners.

It is therefore, not surprising that globally, 53% of people living with AIDS are men and in most regions of the world, two-thirds or more of the people living with HIV/AIDS are men. According to the APIN project manager (Dr. Odutolu of the Harvard school of public health) “Almost 22 million people have lost their lives to the disease and 40 million people are today [year 2000] living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS." The sad truth is that more than 70% of people living with the virus live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Drawing men into the campaign also becomes important since over 70% of HIV infections worldwide have been found to occur through sex between men and women, 10% through sex between men and about 5% among people who inject drugs, four-fifths of which are men. Again further secrecy, stigma and shame associated with AIDS further discourage men and women in particular from acknowledging that they are HIV positive. Community response is needed since this is the only way to win this war against HIV/AIDS. When every family talks about it, and religious organizations preach it, we are on our way to winning the battle.

I must be this need for concerted community response that brought African nations together against AIDS in April 2000, and in the then ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY (OAU) now AFRICAN UNION (AU) first African summit on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, the secretary general of the UN (United Nations) Mr. Kofi Anan confessed that the HIV/AIDS epidemic required very urgent attention. He said, “We are here to face a continent-wide emergency.....we cannot afford to treat AIDS as just one aspect of the battle for development, because it will not wait for us to win that battle. The cost whether measured in human misery today, or in loss of hope for tomorrow is simply too high, we hope to turn the face around.”

Tragically this ray of hope will become a mirage if we cannot contain the spread and devastation of HIV/AIDS and other epidemic diseases in Africa. What we have is a pandemic out of control which is gravely threatening our nations, our children, and our future. We are an endangered continent.

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My real name is Raymond Oluwafemi Idienumah, i was born on the 4th of March 1986 in a small town Okpe,Akoko-Edo, Edo state, Nigeria. I am also a full native of the town where i was born, my family consists of me, my 2 step brothers,and a step sister,and am the first child in my family.
My education background is fortunately very bright and solid, am currently an undergraduate student of computer Engineering at the university of Benin, Edo state Nigeria.

fidelia Kenneth
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