Introducing UNAIDS RST ESA work on Men and HIV

UNAIDS is recognising the gaps and importance of male engagement in the HIV response. Globally, the testing and treatment targets for 2020 were almost reached among adult women (15 years and older) living with HIV. Men living with HIV, however, are consistently faring worse than women across the HIV testing and treatment continuum. Compared to women living with HIV, there are 740 000 more men living with HIV who do not know their HIV status, 1.3 million more men who are not on treatment and 920 000 more men who are not virally suppressed.

The Global AIDS strategy and related high level political declaration have set the goal to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. In pursuit of this ambitious goal, we are applying an inequality lens and framework to reach those furthest behind, which steers our focus towards men. 

Primary health-care services in eastern and southern Africa place a great deal of focus on women of reproductive age, and reproductive, maternal and child health services offer ideal entry points for HIV services; similar entry points for men are not commonplace. While gender norms that prize male strength and stoicism may partly explain why many men delay seeking care, this is not the full picture. The architecture of health service delivery ought to be interrogated. Are health institutions organised in ways that promote access to services for men and boys in their diversity?  Do HIV-related health systems, policies and strategies include men, especially men at high risk of HIV? However, health-system barriers go beyond the service delivery level, and a broader supportive enabling environment needs to be intentionally created, including laws, policies, and health strategies. 

Enabling men to stay free from HIV, get tested regularly and start and stay on treatment, will both improve male health outcomes but will also contribute to declines in new HIV infections among women and girls. In line with the Global AIDS Strategy 2021 – 2026 and UNAIDS’ goal to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, UNAIDS RST ESA is proud to work towards more finely tuned understanding of why men’s use of HIV services continues to lag, by producing the MALE ENGAGEMENT IN HIV TESTING, TREATMENT AND PREVENTION IN EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION <hyper link to strategy> and supporting this website as a clearing house for the latest evidence on men and HIV in the region.


2nd April 2022