A recent UNICEF podcast highlights the critical role of men and adolescent boys in curbing new HIV infections among women. Recall that for millions of women, their single greatest risk factor for HIV infection is being married to or in a stable relationship with a man.
In discussing HIV/AIDS prevention programming, founder and former Executive Director of the AIDS Support Organization in Uganda, Noerine Kaleeba, states that "We are beginning to realize that in our effort to focus on women and girls, we kind of took our eyes off the boys and men.”
Thankfully, some are attempting to do precisely this. A new campaign, Brothers for Life, has just begun in South Africa that seeks to address these issues by redefining social and community norms using a peer-opinion leader model that encourages men to assume key roles in averting new HIV infections, protecting community health, and promoting gender equality:
“We want to break the silence, and mobilise men around the real values that define being a man in South Africa,” says Mandla Ndlovu, from Johns Hopkins Health and Education SA (JHHESA), one of the campaign partners.
The campaign organizers are mindful of the need to empower men to take responsibility for their own and others' health in a ways that often go under addressed:
“Although much good work has been done to engage men in efforts to reduce gender inequality, most programs have been small in scale and had limited sustainability,” says JHHESA’s Mandla Ndlovu Mandla Ndlovu.“ If South Africa wants to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and enhance the physical and psychological health of all its people, it is time to bring men on board.”
For more on this innovative campaign, see Looking for Brothers for Life, or view its inspiring promotional video: