Men's Health and empowerment programme

About the programme

The Men Health Programme is facilitated through the Brothers for Life Programme and targets male students and staff at HEIs and TVETs. The programme aims to address the risk associated with issues around men, men violence free zone, medical male circumcision, multiple and concurrent partners increasing, STI/Cancer & wellness screening amongst men, sexual behaviour practices amongst others and further promotes the FTF Campaign. The campaign is a collaborative partnership with DHET, DOH, Global Funds, USAID/PEPFAR, and South African National AIDS Council (SANAC).The Minister of Health, launched the campaign in 2013 for the HEI sector with the announcement that through PEPFAR and US funded interventions that MMC will be offered free of charge to our staff and students.

The programme recognises that to be effective, a combination approach for HIV prevention is necessary and should include a mix of biomedical, behavioural and social/structural approaches. The programme adopts six key strategies to achieve its goals, namely:

1. Reduce unplanned pregnancy: In 2013 it was revealed that 5.8% of young men in South Africa had impregnated a girl when they were an adolescent (12–19 years) (4). Young men have a vital role to play in reducing unintended pregnancies in young women. This programme encourages young men to proactively prevent unplanned pregnancy.

2. Promote responsible sexual relationships: Men play a vital role in protecting the young women they have sexual relationships with. Education on responsible sexual relationships starts in young men and will create a platform for young men to develop into responsible partners and
family members.

3. Reduce multiple sexual partnerships: Multiple sexual partnerships are acknowledged as a key driver of new HIV infections.

4. Increase consistent condom use among young men: Condoms are effective for averting new HIV infections and STIs.

5. Increase uptake and retention of eligible young men on ART: Better health seeking behavior by men is vital to reducing the prevalence and impact of HIV. Increasing ART uptake among eligible men will impact on HIV prevention as a product of reducing HIV transmission to HIVnegative young women.

6. Increase the uptake of Medical Male Circumcision (MMC): MMC has been shown to provide some protection against HIV infection.

7. Increase awareness, screening and referrals for cancers commonly found in men: Increase the number of men who screen for skin, prostate and lung cancer. Early detection is vital to asuccessful treatment outcome.

The programme focuses on encouraging the utilisation of sexual and reproductive health services. It motivates men to engage in responsible sexual relationships, protecting themselves and their partners from STI, HIV and unplanned pregnancies. The programme encourages young men to access HIV counselling and testing services and to learn their HIV status. The programme also provides information on the benefits of male circumcision and other bio medial prevention methods as they become available.The programme focuses on respecting the rights of young women to sexual determination and promotes healthy and equitable relationship values that address the responsibilities and accountabilities of both partners.