Defying Traditional Barriers To HIV Testing In Centenary

IN communities around Muzarabani, women are renowned for their health seeking behaviour, including seeking HIV testing service, however, the same cannot be said for men.

By Gondai Dekeza

Male involvement when it comes to seeking voluntary HIV testing services,  and participation is very low. Some men feel that it is the duty of their wives to visit the clinic and hope that the results would be favorable.

Favorable results are not always the case and this happens, it is the wife who takes the blame for being unfaithful. Some men argue that they have no time since they have to go out each day and work for the family while a few complain that they find the environment at the local health facilities very unfriendly to them.

However, the same cannot be said for Mr Canvas (55) from Larachel Farm in Centenary who is married to two wives Revai aged 50 and Yeukai aged 40. The family benefited from the mobile HIV Testing Services (HTS) outreach initiative being spearheaded by the Zimbabwe AIDS Prevention and Support Organisation (ZAPSO) in hard to reach areas.

It is something uncommon for married people to get tested for HIV together, let alone to see those in polygamous relationship doing the same. Mr Kind and his family decided to break the cultural barrier.

‘’ I decided to move with time and get tested together with my two wives because I realised that we might be in danger of getting HIV.

“At first I was skeptical since I had never experienced it before. I was able to overcome my doubts from the pretesting counselling session. Being tested together also bestowed trust and confidence in my family,” said Mr Kind.

Although knowledge of HIV is high, most people continue to have a personal low risk perception.  The Zimbabwe AIDS Prevention and Support Organisation is working with communities to transform attitudes including increase knowledge and generate demand for HIV testing services.

Beyond awareness-raising, there is a need to address underlying factors for risky sexual practices such as multiple sexual partnering including imbalanced gender relations. To achieve a world free of new HIV infections, we need not to leave anyone behind. Let us mind the gap and get to men as well.

 

NOTE: Mr Gondai Dekeza is the Programs Manager for ZAPSO In Mzarabani, Centenary district

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