How Fear Inhibits HIV Testing and Treatment in African Men

HIV is a potentially life-threatening virus that damages the immune system, causing a disease known as AIDS to develop. It is through unprotected sexual intercourse – including oral, vaginal, and anal that this dangerous virus is being transmitted from one person to another. 

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Although HIV is spread all around the world, affecting roughly 34 million people, it seems that Africa is one of the countries with the highest incidence where around 69% of the infected people live. And unfortunately, children are not spared of this horrible disease as well. 91% of infected children with HIV/AIDS are thought to live in Africa

Fear prevents African men from getting tested and treated for HIV

Although for the longest time now, the lack of knowledge has been linked as a contributing factor to the continuous spread of HIV in Africa, it seems that there is an even bigger factor to be considered. We are talking about fear. But when we mention fear, we do not mean fear of the disease itself, but fear of how these people would be treated by other people in their society once they are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

A new study published in 2019 in PLoS One has demonstrated the influence of fear upon the decision-making process to get tested and properly treated. The focus of the study has been men and how the feeling of fear influences them in a scenario where they would have to get tested for HIV and then treated if needed. Multiple interviews and surveys with 227 African men have been conducted to gather enough data on the topic.

The men were later divided into three groups – men who were unaware of their HIV status, men who were aware of being HIV positive but not getting any treatment, and men who were aware of their status of being HIV positive and getting properly treated. It was discovered that many men tend to hide their positive HIV status and with that trying to preserve the image that they have created for themselves and are showing to the people in their surrounding environment.

It seems that the men living in Cote d’Ivoire, Africa, are afraid to get tested for HIV, contributing to the continuous spread of this disease. The source of their fear is the fact that HIV/AIDS is still considered to be a stigma in Africa and often being linked to feelings of shame and fear, thus resulting in a lack of much-needed action. It seems that the African men fear that their HIV positive status will interfere and lower their masculinity and, therefore, their ability to form and support their families, work, and actively engage in their society. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4924471/

http://files.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/gr2012/20121120_FactSheet_Global_en.pdf

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-hiv-africa

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6808548/

Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers as viewed in his recent book .Other than his passion for writing, Dr. Ahmed spends his time outside the hospital, either reading or at the gym. Visit his website ZayedMD.com

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