‘Men Make a Difference’ on World AIDS Day
Tomorrow marks the 13th annual World AIDS Day, with this year's theme being "Men Make a Difference." According to UNAIDS, this year's campaign "aims to involve men more fully in the effort against AIDS and to bring about a much-needed focus on men in national responses to the epidemic." To this end, UNAIDS has established the following three main goals: to "raise awareness of the relationship between" HIV and male behavior, to encourage men and teenage boys to "make a strong commitment to preventing the spread of HIV and caring for those affected" and to "promote programs that respond to the needs of both men and women." According to UNAIDS, men are less likely to seek health care but more likely to be infected or die from AIDS everywhere except sub-Saharan Africa, yet societal expectations cause them to think and behave in ways that "endanger" their health and well-being or that of their sex partners. UNAIDS identifies several "special circumstances" that place men at a "particularly high risk" of contracting HIV: those who migrate for work "may pay for sex and use substances ... as a way to cope with the stress and loneliness of living far away from home." Men often are raised or work in cultures that "reinforc[e] risk-taking, including unsafe sex." And risk behaviors are "compound[ed]" by "[s]ecrecy, stigma and shame." According to UNAIDS, men have the "potential to make a difference" in the fight against AIDS, as they can participate more in caring for their children. The theme of this year's campaign complements prevention programs for women and girls, as "[w]ork that enhances gender awareness and sensitivity should focus on the needs of both sexes," UNAIDS concludes ( UNAIDS fact sheet, 12/2000).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.