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The statistics by the ministry of health show that more males died of AIDS when compared to women who are mostly killed by illnesses that are related to sexual and reproductive health. 


The ministry of health has also made the month of June a males health month to address health issues that affect males.


In 2012, 1 258 men died of AIDS and only 910 women died of the same disease in the same year.


However, in that same year (2012) 3 429 women died due to sexual and reproductive health issues. The issues include complications of labour and delivery, miscarriages and complications following abortions and ectopic pregnancies.


Other contributing factors are barriers women face in achieving timely and effective health care needed to prevent deaths occurring in pregnancy and child birth.


What is most interesting to note is that women are not cited to have fears of seeking medical attention but are barred by factors that are beyond their means.


Males, on the other hand, are said to have fears in seeking medical attention before they get ill. The alarming death toll due to AIDS has probed a question as to why most men died of the illness. Most of the responses from the organisations that deal with HIV/AIDS matters suggest that men have a fear of testing as they fear the unknown.



Sipho Dlamini, the Acting Director of the Swaziland Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS adamantly stated that the stigma of the illness was still prevalent hence the reason why most men did not want to test for HIV.


“The stigma that is attached to HIV/AIDS is still very high. I can’t deny that and it’s mainly because of the manner in which HIV was handled in the past. The past connotation was that the virus was only contracted by those who were loose and it’s very hard to erase that,” he said.


He further stated that media also played a part in that by labelling hospital wards that were once believed to be of patients that were dying of AIDS.


“The media’s discriminatory statements, particularly when reporting about a person who had died after a long illness and highlighting that the deceased had died in Ward 18, which was falsely perceived to be of patients who had AIDS, has also made the stigma worse; yet in actual fact, the media can do a lot to assist with destroying the stigma,” he explained.


When asked why most men died of AIDS, he stated that in most cases men tested very late and started treatment (ARVs), shortly after testing and that shows that they were already ill. He also said that they (SWANEPHA) discouraged that and wanted people to test for just about any other health issue and not just for HIV.


Dlamini emphasised that myths and perceptions around HIV were just the main factor as to why males did not test. He said: “The issue of stigma is a global issue and it’s also a human rights issue but once you mention the aspect of that; people think that it’s political or about the struggle,” he revealed.


He also counted fear and an element of inferiority as other reasons why men did not test.


SWANEPHA Regional Co-ordinator Gavin Khumalo also called for a change of mindset in this regard.


“I think all that is needed is a change of mindset and that can assist in many ways. Men in general don’t respond fast to any issue and take too much time thinking about issues before reaching a conclusion or decision,” he stated.


Senior nurse at laMvelase Health Centre Setsabile Mswane also agreed that men tested very late.


“Men seek medical attention very late when the illness has progressed, whilst women seek medical attention at the onset of the illness,” she said and continued, “I think socialisation has a lot to do with it, as males are told to be brave and persevere when ill and also have fear of the unknown especially when one knows his past behaviours,” she stated.


Contrasting Figures

Whilst most men are killed by AIDS, the below graphs show that women die mostly of sexual and reproductive related illnesses. The second illness that killed most women over the past three years are gastro enteritis and colitis that claimed in total 3 818 lives, AIDS that has killed 2737, pulmonary tuberculosis 2593 and lastly cervical cancer that has claimed 405 lives over the past three years.


Males on the other hand died more in 2012 of AIDS that killed 1,258. AIDS is the third killer of females and in 2012 claimed 910 lives. In second position (males) came pulmonary TB that claimed 1,245 lives, yet TB comes in fourth position for females and in 2012 claimed 738 lives. Gastroenteritis claimed 530 lives and came in third place for males, whilst with women the same illness came at number two and in 2012 claimed 1 137 lives. Diabetes also claimed 491 lives of males in the female health graph it does not reflect.


Instead, in fourth position, females died of pulmonary tuberculosis. The last condition that killed males the most in 2012 was hypertension that claimed 311 lives and with women, the last condition is cervical cancer that claimed 405 women.


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