Anova’s Health4Men initiative is dedicated to addressing the heightened HIV risk among MSM through the provision of competent, prejudice-free sexual healthcare for MSM and the promotion of a sex-positive attitude among healthcare workers. Highly regarded for its brazen campaigns, its presence continues to grow through initiatives such as Ukwazana and Zwakalani, which are aimed at addressing homophobia in township communities.
Better services for men who have sex with men
Part of Health4Men’s programme activities are aimed at finding ways of strengthening the healthcare system. This has included dedicating resources to training and the introduction of MSM-competent sites. Along with rolling out services for MSM, comes the need for a general change in approach among healthcare workers in primary health settings. Recognising that one of the key barriers to addressing HIV among MSM in South Africa is stigmatisation by healthcare workers, Health4Men runs MSM sensitivity training workshops in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
They have also developed innovative training material and courses to better equip nurses, counsellors and medical officers to respond to the specialised needs of MSM in a sensitive and emphatic manner. This training is being provided to healthcare workers in the Western Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State.
Health4Men’s goal of establishing MSM friendly facilities throughout the country has also brought about the development of a manual for healthcare workers on sexual healthcare for MSM, aptly named From Top2Bottom: A sex-positive approach for men who have sex with men. A manual for healthcare providers.
Health4Men’s reputation for training earned them an invitation in 2012 to Uganda to up-skill healthcare workers and to provide competent services for MSM. Given Uganda’s controversial stance towards homosexuality, this was a rare and valuable opportunity for Health4Men to provide psychosexual and medial training during the three-day training in Kampala.
Working in partnership with local and provincial health departments, Health4Men have added 68 competent sites to its existing list.
Men in the inner city of Johannesburg can now access Yeoville clinic for specialised sexual healthcare, thanks to a partnership with the City of Johannesburg. In Soweto men who engage in same sex behaviour can visit either the Zola or the Chiawelo Community Health Centres. These two new sites replace the Simon Nkoli Centre for Men’s Health which was previously based at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
MSM are now able to use their cell phones to identify and locate their nearest competent clinic through the mobi site. They can do this by simply entering either their street address, village or town on their phone.
The project already uses such technology as a platform to provide MSM-specific information on HIV prevention and treatment, other sexually transmitted infections and substance abuse, through their h4m.mobi site. The site, launched in 2011, offers MSM the opportunity to pose anonymous questions to Health4Men’s team of doctors and to view responses on their cell phones.
In the Western Cape, the Ivan Toms Centre for Men’s Health operates from Woodstock hospital, a recognised centre of excellence in MSM care, and in Khayelitsha Siseko Men’s Clinic is stationed at a taxi and transport nexus. Run in partnership with the province it services a large contingent of men in this informal settlement. Outside Siseko Men’s clinic, at Site C Khayelitsha taxi rank, Health4Men erected their first billboard a few years ago encouraging men to look after their sexual health. Subsequently another 8 billboards have been erected in Ermelo, Nelspruit, Tzaneen and Soweto. By November 2014, an additional 12 billboards will be erected in Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.
Aside from their creative and thought provoking campaigns, Health4Men is very active on social media and online through their website.
In an innovative effort to reach out and inform MSM, they also have a very popular and active mobi site which allows users to access safer sex information instantly using their cellphones.
Vanilla flavour is merely waiting for a creative topping.
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