Framing the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) as a solution to the threat that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) poses to men’s values – rather than simply in medical terms – may have a greater impact in convincing them to seek care and adhere to treatment than focusing on health benefits alone, new Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) research suggests. CCP is based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The findings, published July 31 in AIDS and Behavior, are based on 73 in-depth interviews with men and 28 focus groups of men across three cities in Cote d’Ivoire in 2016. The men told researchers that HIV threatens their masculinity in many ways, not just their health. Beyond making them sick, they fear that a HIV diagnosis could mean the potential loss of a job, that future children could become infected, or they could lose their social status due to the stigma of living with HIV. Antiretroviral therapy, which helps men infected with HIV to continue to work and provide for their families and not appear ill, can be an antidote to those threats. Using these insights, researchers suggest, social and behavior change programs could develop more effective approaches to encouraging men to be tested and treated for HIV, and to stick with their medication regimen.
Dr. Zoe Mistrale Hendrickson, a research and evaluation officer with CCP and assistant scientist in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health, Behavior and Society, is co-author.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on September 06