Men continue to face multiple barriers when attempting to access HIV testing and prevention services in South Africa; this is according to Dr Jean Bassett, Director of non-profit organisation Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre.
“We don’t think that enough is done to encourage men to access healthcare – it’s our mission to change this,” says Bassett. “We want to engage men in health issues that concern them, encouraging them to take preventative measures against HIV and Aids.”
With this mind, the centre launched their male friendly clinic Mvuselelo in 2017. Operated by an all-male staff, including a professional nurse, counsellor for HIV testing services and vitals assistant, the clinic has created a space where men can be tested and treated for HIV as well as other acute conditions.
Bassett says there are three main reasons behind not getting tested, these are;
- Fear around testing positive for HIV – learning that you are HIV positive might be difficult to accept at first, but it enables you to start treatment immediately, ensuring that you have a good chance of living a long and healthy life.
- Perceived low HIV risk – even if you don’t think you have been exposed to HIV, you should still get tested if you are sexually active. Medical experts suggest that you should get tested at least once a year, no matter what you think your current status is.
- Belief that one test is enough – your HIV test result expires every time you have risky sex, which is why it is important to test regularly. It is the only way to know your status for sure.
She urges men to stay strong and informed by visiting their nearest clinic to get tested, especially if they have had more than one sexual partner within the last six months, participated in unprotected sex, injected drugs or shared needles.
Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre believes that knowing your status is powerful information – which is they offer patients a free first visit, this includes HIV testing to all patients. They are based at 105 William Nicol Drive, Fourways, Johannesburg, and are open from 7.30am to 4pm every weekday.
For more information on the other services they provide, visit their website www.witkoppen.org.za
Interesting facts and service updates can be found on Facebook (@WitkoppenHealthandWelfareCentre) and Twitter (@Witkoppen105).
To view other NGO press releases, refer to www.ngopulse.org/press-releases