On World Aids Day, UNAIDS warns that men are less likely to access HIV treatment and more likely to die of AIDS-related illnesses

New report from UNAIDS shows the blind spot in reaching men with HIV services

OTTAWA/GENEVA, 1 December 2017—On World AIDS Day, UNAIDS has released a new report showing that men are less likely to take an HIV test, less likely to access antiretroviral therapy and more likely to die of AIDS-related illnesses than women. The Blind spot shows that globally less than half of men living with HIV are on treatment, compared to 60% of women. Studies show that men are more likely than women to start treatment late, to interrupt treatment and to be lost to treatment follow-up.

“Addressing the inequalities that put women and girls at risk of HIV is at the forefront of the AIDS response,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “But there is a blind spot for men—men are not using services to prevent HIV or to test for HIV and are not accessing treatment on the scale that women are.”

In sub-Saharan Africa, men and boys living with HIV are 20% less likely than women and girls living with HIV to know their HIV status, and 27% less likely to be accessing treatment. In KwaZulu-Natal, the province with the highest HIV prevalence in South Africa, only one in four men aged 20–24 years living with HIV in 2015 knew that they had the virus.

In western and central Africa, a region that is struggling to respond effectively to HIV, only 25% of men living with HIV are accessing treatment. When people are not on treatment they are more likely to transmit HIV.

“When men access HIV prevention and treatment services, there is a triple dividend,” said Mr Sidibé. “They protect themselves, they protect their sexual partners and they protect their families.”

The report highlights data from sub-Saharan Africa that show that condom use during sex with a non-regular partner is low among older men, who are also more likely to be living with HIV—50% of men aged 40–44 years and 90% of men aged 55–59 years reported not using a condom. These data are consistent with studies showing a cycle of HIV transmission from older men to younger women, and from adult women to adult men of a similar age in places with high HIV prevalence.

The Blind spot also shows that HIV prevalence is consistently higher among men within key populations. Outside of eastern and southern Africa, 60% of all new HIV infections among adults are among men. The report outlines the particular difficulties men in key populations face in accessing HIV services, including discrimination, harassment and denial of health services. Read more via UNAIDS