GENEVA — A new report issued on World AIDS Day finds more men than women are dying from AIDS because fewer men get tested for the fatal disease or have access to treatment.
The report finds men have, what it calls, a blind spot when it comes to getting tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. And, if they do not know their HIV status, the report says men are unlikely to get treatment and will die.
UNAIDS says this situation is particularly acute in sub-Saharan Africa, where men and boys living with HIV are 20 percent less likely than HIV-positive women and girls to know their status. The report says even larger numbers are less likely to seek treatment and warns that people who are not being treated are more likely to transmit the AIDS virus.
While more women are likely to be living with HIV, more men are likely to die from this fatal disease, says Peter Ghys, the chief strategy officer at UNAIDS. He says the reason is that fewer men than women receive antiretroviral therapy – citing a figure of 47 percent for men compared to 60 percent for women.
“Then also once people are on treatment, we find that men are actually less likely to be fully observant or adherent to their treatment,” said Ghys. “And, so it results actually in a higher mortality of men living with HIV than women living with HIV. And so, about 58 percent of all the AIDS-related deaths that were observed in 2016 are occurring among men, even though there are more women living with HIV.”
Global trends on the HIV/AIDS epidemic are generally positive. New data show AIDS-related deaths have declined by nearly half since a peak in 2005; but, the epidemic is far from over. UNAIDS reports nearly 2 million people worldwide became newly infected with HIV last year and more than one million people died from AIDS-related illnesses.
The report shows fewer men than women visit health care facilities and so are less likely to be diagnosed with life-threatening conditions. It says many men avoid getting tested because they fear being stigmatized by knowing their HIV status. Many others, it says refrain from receiving life-saving treatment because they believe they are invincible.