The primary barrier to getting men in Cote d’Ivoire tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is fear — not of the disease itself, but of the social and economic consequences that a positive diagnosis could bring, new Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) research suggests. CCP is based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The researchers, reporting October 23 in the journal PLOS ONE, say this theme came up repeatedly in focus groups and individual interviews conducted with men in the West African nation. The findings could inform new strategies for how to use social and behavior change communication to help men decide to undergo free HIV testing and treatment.
In Cote d’Ivoire, an estimated 2.5 percent of adults between the ages of 15 and 49 are living with HIV, but only 24 percent of men living with the virus know they are infected (compared to a still-low 43 percent of women in the country).
Dr. Danielle Naugle, research and evaluation officer at CCP and study lead, says that much of the social and behavior change communication on HIV is conducted through a lens of health, focusing on the need to be tested and treated for the virus to preserve not only your health but others’ as well. But, she says, given this research on masculinity showing that four other domains — sexuality, work and financial success, family, and social status — play just as much and maybe more of a role in men’s decision-making, it would make sense to adjust the focus of HIV-related messages.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on November 29