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Why Do Men Die Earlier Than Women When Infected With HIV? Let’s Find Out Now.
In almost every African country, attention is given to women, leaving men to the mercies of God. The health industry has given its attention to finding solutions for women-related infections or diseases, giving little or no concern to men.
For instance, it is likely that one would see a skeletal man being pushed into a wheelbarrow by his son or brother. This is a man suffering from HIV and unable to walk or do anything for himself and his family.
Why do men die from HIV more often?
According to research, men who contract HIV find out too late and as a result, are given anti-retroviral medication and later sent to the men’s ward. This ward is considered a ward of death as little attention is given to them.
On the other hand, most women regularly walk to clinics where they receive dedicated services for their pregnancies and for their young children and are routinely tested for HIV. If they are found to be infected, they are immediately given anti-retroviral medication.
This enables the women to live many more years with HIV and blocks the transmission of HIV to their children. Even though more women test HIV positive than men, they tend to live longer.
Men die earlier than women
While women are more likely to be infected, men account for 60% of all HIV-related deaths. Most are related to poor use of HIV testing and treatment. Studies reveal that over 65% of men who are HIV positive have never started treatment.
HIV is a manageable disease when treated well, if it is not treated, or treated too late, it becomes a death sentence. But the question remains the same, “why are men not tested or treated for HIV?”.
Experts reveal that the standard response is that men refuse to admit that they need help. It is a common and perhaps universal stereotype.
A focus on women, but what about the men?
International organisations regularly examine factors outside of women’s control that limit their use of health services. Gender inequality, poverty, and the distance they have to travel to access a health centre are often to blame.
There is a logic to this approach, focusing on women means that we can prevent new infections in utero and during birth, thus saving the lives of children. As a result, HIV services are tailored to women of childbearing age and their children. In a growing number of countries, pregnant and breastfeeding HIV positive women are automatically started on HIV treatment for life. This happens regardless of whether they meet the standard eligibility criteria.
Despite these successes for women, HIV policymakers have not fully understood why men are not using services. Unlike women, men are not targeted by HIV policies to ensure they are tested and treated. They are systematically disadvantaged in their access to care.
Men will always have to sort things out
Our research found that there are limited options available for men to test and start treatment when it comes to treating HIV. They must seek out HIV services for themselves and are not actively recruited as is the case with pregnant women.
Public clinics are typically tailored to women. They are inevitably crowded with women waiting to see a nurse, increasing waiting times for services and making public clinics woman’s spaces that men believe are not intended for them.
Private clinics provide a more male-friendly alternative, but paying for care is a luxury most cannot afford. The alternative is to forego testing altogether. For many, this will mean an untimely death.
Not equal care, but given more attention
There is good justification to prioritise services for women and the children they bear and care for. But to actually turn the tide of the HIV pandemic, men must be included.
We are not advocating that there should be an equal number of health services for men. Instead, more must be done for men than is currently offered. While women and unborn children receive care, husbands and fathers should not be overlooked.
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