The University of Botswana Faculty of Medicine has launched an HIV Testing Study targeting men in Botswana to uncover factors influencing their foot-dragging towards testing for HIV.
Speaking at the launch on February 15, 2019 at Sir Ketumile Masire Hospital, Acting Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, Dr Oathokwa Nkomazana, said the research would provide valuable data on sexual practices, health knowledge, HIV testing and HIV prevalence among men in Botswana.
Dr Oathokwa said the study would also help find solutions to improve public health as well as ways to encourage men to go for testing in a way that would be convenient and easy for them.
The Study is titled “Innovative HIV Testing Strategy for Middle-to-upper Income in a Resource Limited Setting.” The project is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), USA through the R21 funding mechanism.
Principal Investigators are Dr Mosepele Mosepele (Faculty of Medicine), Professor Nthabiseng Phaladze (Faculty of Health Sciences) and Dr Laura Bogart (RAND Institute, USA). Collaborating research institutions are University of Botswana, Ministry of Health & Wellness, Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership and RAND Institute in the USA.
Dr Nkomazana said Statistics Botswana and Ministry of Health and Wellness research study findings indicated a high number of woman went for testing in Botswana compared to men who recoded worrisome numbers which impact on government efforts to stop the HIV/AIDS spread.
“We are also excited about the funding of the study because it will contribute positively towards the development of public health and academia,” said Dr Nkomazana
Meanwhile, Dr Mosepele who is also Head of Department of Internal Medicine, said the study would target men in higher socio-economic status (SES) in resource limited settings who may be affected because they could not access HIV testing in ways that addressed the stigma given the coveted higher SES they in their community.
“We propose to explore barriers to HIV testing, and use results from our interviews to pilot an innovative HIV testing strategy among men age 35 years and above within the higher SES at major employers in Botswana.”
“That way, we hope to protect men’s sense of masculinity buy offering HIV testing in a way acceptable to them, and consequently, limit spread of HIV by these well-off men to their similar age partners and to younger women with whom they may have casual transactional sexual relationships,” said Dr Mosepele
UB Faculty of Medicine Acting Dean, Professor Doreen Ramogola-Masire also expressed delight towards funding of the study.
Dr Ramogola-Masire said such was part of efforts of strengthening UB’s engagement with industry in improving and solving problems affecting communities. She also said the only way for the University to become part and parcel of developing Batswana to become innovative was through research in partnership with industry.