Across Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), boys and men have been largely neglected in the response to HIV. Compared with women, boys and men are less likely to test for HIV, to initiate antiretroviral therapy (ART) and to remain engaged in HIV care, and they experience higher mortality rates. However, once men start ART, their viral suppression rates are similar to women’s.
For the global AIDS response to be effective, it is time to focus on boys and men in ESA. Since 2009 a growing number of studies have raised the alarm about the limited engagement of boys and men in HIV services and urged action on two fronts:
Finally, HIV does not operate in a silo. HIV policies, programmes and services need to be integrated into existing primary health services, systems and budgets to reach universal health coverage. In order to succeed in the fight to end the HIV epidemic by ‘getting to zero’, strategies are needed that target all of the actors engaged in this broader field of gendered power and inequality. We must reach and engage more men – for their own health, and to end HIV transmission.