The Family Aids Caring Trust (Fact), a non-political Aids service organisation, said communities in Chipinge district were responding positively to HIV and Aids awareness programmes. Addressing journalists during a media tour of Manicaland Province organised by the National Aids Council (NAC), Fact programmes manager Noleen Mangezi said after several awareness and counselling programmes, more men were now willing to get tested and disclose their status.
“Around 2007 the participation of men was very low but now it has immensely increased. It has risen from 13% to 43% as many are now willing to be tested as well as to open up about their status,” said Mangezi.
“Through our outreach programmes, we have realised that men opt to be visited than to visit a health institution, therefore we have been approaching them at their workplaces as well as at growth points.”
Mangezi said 85% of the organisation’s clients were from outreach programmes which showed that their messages were being well-received by the communities. NAC communications officer Orirando Manwere also highlighted the importance of men’s participation in HIV programmes.
“The step which has been taken by men of Chipinge district comes as a relief as it shows that men are beginning to accept the importance of being tested early in order to access available HIV and Aids services,” said Manwere.
Forty-two-year-old Lazarus Matamba, who tested HIV-positive at the beginning of this year and is now on treatment, encouraged more men to participate in HIV and Aids awareness programmes.
“I owe my life to the outreach programmes,” said Matamba. “At the beginning of 2008, my health started to deteriorate and my wife advised me to visit the clinic but l did not bother to visit the health institution as l was shy to be seen by my friends.”
But one day when he was drinking beer with friends, Matamba was approached by Fact officials who lectured on the importance of getting tested and early treatment.
“l was surprised when l found out that l was HIV-positive and during that time my CD4 count had gone down to 125. I am now living a healthy life,” he said. /