Men are being urged to become crucial stakeholders in the fight against HIV, as they are one of the key populations most vulnerable to the HIV epidemic.
This call came today from Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, who was addressing the National Assistance Board’s HIV Seminar for men fifty years and older and their sons, entitled, “HIV…Men the Fight is Not Over”, at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa,.
Making reference to data collected by the HIV National Health Surveillance, the Minister revealed that of the 1,673 AIDS related deaths between 1984 and 2012, men constituted 71%. Additionally, he explained that men continude to be disproportionately affected by the virus with regard to new cases of HIV and AIDS- related deaths.
Against this background, Mr. Blackett explained, “This year’s theme is a call to action for all men to work together in the fight for HIV prevention. It also reminds us that while gains have been made, these can be eroded if men become complacent and do not become engaged as challenges and issues are presented”.
While he acknowledged that building meaningful intergenerational partnerships would be challenging, considering communication and attitudinal barriers, he stressed that there must be dialogue and cohesion so older and young males could unite for the common goal of HIV prevention.
Addressing the males gathered, Mr. Blackett said, “Today we have a mixed group of older and younger males and this forum will facilitate cross-generational dialogue. The diverse needs of these two groups as well as commonalities will be articulated. In our conversation today we need to identify our diversities, how they constrain us and present barriers to the fight against HIV.
“Conversely, we must examine our mutual needs and how these can provide common ground to build meaningful relationships. Above all, we must recognize that regardless of our generation we are interdependent and therefore we must value the unique yet complementary contribution of each other. We must therefore pool our skills, competencies and other resources to achieve a common goal, that is, the prevention of HIV.”
The Minister urged the participants to be receptive to the information that would be transmitted during the seminar, as this knowledge would later be translated into behaviour modification which would not only be of benefit to them, but also to their families and communities.
He concluded by encouraging them to become actively involved in the fight against HIV, and strive to be agents for change, whether in their homes, work places or communities.