A recent study has shed some light on the reasons behind the high HIV percentage within people living in Africa, especially within adult men. As it turns out, fear has a lot to do with why so many African men fail to ask for help for their HIV symptoms in time, risking their health and lives. In the following article, we will explore the results of the previously mentioned study.
How dangerous is HIV?
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, which, as the term suggests, is a virus that damages the immune system. Although unprotected sexual intercourse is how HIV is most often transmitted, what a lot of people do not know is that HIV can be transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids, and even breast milk. Unfortunately, there is no cure for HIV, but scientists all over the world are working on finding one.
In 2016, approximately 36.7 million people were living with HIV worldwide, with 2.1 million of those being children under the age of 15. Speaking about Africa, there have been an estimated 23.8 million people infected with HIV. To make matters worse, it has also been suggested that 91% of infected children with HIV are living in Africa. More than one million adults and children die because of AIDS each year in Africa alone.
How big is the role of fear in proper HIV testing and treatment among African men?
In the last couple of years, it has been one of the main tasks to make proper HIV testing and treatment available to all people living around the world, with a special focus on underserved areas, such as Africa. Luckily, there has been a lot of success in providing proper testing and treatment for almost all different STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), including HIV. Testing and treatment are usually free of charge to make it easier for people to get regular check-ups and maintain their good health.
But as it turns out, availability is not the biggest problem of them all, when it comes to STD and HIV testing and treatment. A study published in October 2019, has revealed that STD and especially HIV is often linked to shame and fear among men living in Cote d’Ivoire, Africa, which makes HIV a taboo, a topic that very few people are open to talk about. This results in a lack of action when it comes to getting proper check-ups and treating the condition so that a longer than expected life span can be possible for those infected with HIV.
The study revealed that 1 in 40 adult men are infected with HIV, with only one-quarter of them being aware of the disease that they have been carrying. And since HIV is such as stigmatized disease where these men live, it is harder for them to ask for help when they need it. These men have been worried about how HIV would impact their ability as a father, partner, and as a healthy individual who is able to provide for his family, maintaining a steady job, when they are unaware of the risks that are to come with leaving HIV untreated.
With HIV still being a stigmatized disease in Africa, fewer and fewer African men are prepared to ask for help or a simple check-up, which results in a high number of HIV cases in Africa alone. Afraid of seeing a positive result and its impact that it can have on their lives, these men avoid getting tested and getting proper treatment afterward.