World Aids Day: Complacency will unravel progress made against HIV through community involvement, warn experts

Friends from the Springfield area visited the Aids ribbon site at the famous Gugu Dlamini park. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency(ANA)

Friends from the Springfield area visited the Aids ribbon site at the famous Gugu Dlamini park. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 1, 2022


According to World Population Review, South Africa has one of the highest HIV prevalence in the world; ranking fourth at 19.1% in 2020.

Coupled with the highest burden of people living with HIV (PLHIV – People living with HIV) globally, at an estimated 8.45 million.

The US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the National Department of Health (NDoH) collaborated with Project Last Mile (PLM) and FCB Joburg to launch MINA to address these issues, and reduce the stigma attached to the illness.

This effort for men’s health aims to persuade men to get tested for HIV and offers social support for those who test positive to start and continue treatment.

The campaign aims to dispel the social stigmas that prevent men from getting tested and sticking with antiretroviral treatment (ART). In addition to this, the platform seeks to give men a safe place to discuss and share their anxieties and experiences while addressing common misconceptions about HIV.

This was designed to provide men with the tools and resources they need to take charge of their life and their HIV status by drawing on the insights gained via community coaches’ work with men living with HIV and their interactions with them

The objective behind the initiative is to help men overcome their reluctance to put their health first by exposing them to a supportive network of other men in similar situations.

MINA. For Men. For Health has demonstrated success in areas where individuals were exposed to brand messaging. Some key statistics include:

Since the campaign’s inception in November 2020, more than 107 290 men have tested for HIV, with a subsequent increase in men starting antiretroviral therapy.

On average, 48 000 more men tested for HIV per quarter in MINA. For Men. Nationally, the first quarter post-launch saw a 7% increase in men’s linkage to care.

“The efforts and campaigns providing a positive narrative around HIV are now showing success across the board in combating the perceptions around the disease. In addition, the campaign is generating a positive framework to aid men living with HIV to express themselves, get the necessary care, and remain on treatment,” said Rodney Knotts, Senior Marketing Advisor at USAID.

“Currently, we are looking at ways to increase the presence of MINA. For Men” said Jonathan Wolberg, Creative Director at FCB Joburg.

He said: “Mass media and social marketing are legitimate tools for increasing education, decreasing stigma, and promoting behaviour change in the fight against HIV/Aids.”

While South Africa made significant strides in combating HIV-Aids over the last decade, complacency will reverse the progress achieved through community engagement, screening, and treatment.

MINA. For Men. For Health continues to be crucial in addressing this public health issue, which is very much present in South African society.

MINA. For Men. For Health’s fundamental goal of For Health is to alter and normalise discourse on HIV.

“In addition to empowering men living with HIV, we also want to support and uplift their spouses, families, and communities with our above-the-line, digital, and in-clinic campaign,” said Amanda Manchia, PLM Strategic Marketing Project Lead.

“Our objective is to influence social change and views for all South Africans around this perfectly treatable chronic ailment.”

Read the latest issue of IOL Health digital magazine here.