Zimbabwe, through the National Aids Council (NAC), has introduced a programme that targets boys as the country scales up its HIV interventions which have been largely femaletargeted over the past years.
NAC educators, through the use of Behavioural personnel, Change Community Motivators (BCCM), go door-to-door in various communities to teach young boys and men on HIV.
The aim of the programme is to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women that have been on the increase in the past few years.
While programmes such as Sister to Sister have been put in place to educate girls and keep them busy, not much was being done to reach out to boys and educate them on their sexual and reproductive rights.
Speaking during a recent media tour of Mashonaland East, one of the BCCM, Chipo Njenge, said most men were initially not keen on getting tested, but through demystifying the myths and misconceptions around HIV, circumcision and prostate cancer, which are some of the services being offered, some men were starting to show interest and even enquiring about other services.
She also said most men were still shying away from reporting abuse which was quite rampant in Seke district.
“We are reaching out to men of different age groups and the response has been positive so far as we are getting to our target of reaching out to 16 men every month,” she said.
“It takes a lot to convince a man to access the services being offered, but we are seeing more and more men getting interested especially in voluntary medical male circumcision.
“Most men, however, do not want to report about gender-based violence.
“We have seen a number of cases and we hope that men will get to a point where they can speak out after the outreaches we are doing.”
NAC Seke district Aids coordinator Florence Nyandoro said the programme seeks to lure more men to access sexual reproductive health services as there was generally low health-seeking behaviour among men.
“What they will be doing is mobilising the men to access HIV prevention services that include medical male circumcision,” she said.
“The ultimate objective is to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women.
“There are various investigations that were done that revealed that most of the new infections that we have among young girls and women are being caused by infections in older men and this programme therefore seeks to address those particular challenges.”
The programme, which was introduced in July this year, has attracted more than 3 000 men and the community motivators are tasked to reach out to at least 16 men every month.
HIV screening, voluntary medical male circumcision, prostate cancer testing and gender-based violence counselling are some of the services being offered under this programme.