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PEST4MEN dissemination workshop, by Associate Professor Joseph Matovu

PEST4MEN Dissemination Workshop

Thursday 14 th September, 2023 at Grand Global Hotel-Kampala, Associate Professor Joseph K.B. Matovu (Principal Investigator- PI) from the Faculty of Health Sciences – Mbale, disseminated his research findings under the research project titled: PEST4MEN. The workshop theme was: An Intervention to Reach Men in The Fishing
Communities with HIV Testing Services.

The workshop guest of Honor was Professor Julius Wandabwa – Dean Faculty of Health Sciences and the workshop attracted membership from the study participants, Faculties from Busitema University, Makerere University and a Special Introduction from Associate Professor David Mukunya from the department of Public Health, Busitema University.

He gave a project description whereby the study targeted not mainly men on the fishing sites Mwema Fishing Community in Kalangala District and Kasaali B Fishing landing site in Buvuma District) but also others in different areas outside landing sites. Thus the study focused not only on men around the island but also men elsewhere. He described that fishing communities have high HIV incidences and prevalence than that mainland dubbed as ‘’net sinks ‘’.

The main purpose of the study was; to assess the feasibility and acceptability of the peer –led HIV testing interventions on the HIV testing uptake among men in the two fishing communities, the first district encountered was Kalangala at Mwema fishing site, with a population 1200, with about 58 percent male, and an age bracket being 15 years and above, second district was Buvuma at a fishing site called Kasaali B fishing site.

The PI further shared how peer leaders and men were selected. These were selected basing on the following; Testing period (Last tested at least 3months ago), Being aged 15 plus years, a known member in a well-defined social network, being personally close and known to the peer leader. And after selection each peer leader (PL) received a socio-demographic form to capture details of the distribution event with the choice being theirs to choose when to begin the distribution. The characteristics of men that were allowed included the following age bracket as follows 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45 plus.

Their main occupation of the participants was fishing and mainly their medium of  communication being Luganda language ,800 kits were given, 378 kits were given to Mwema group ,422 kits given to Kasaali group, out of the 800 kits ,782 were the only one distributed and 18 kits were returned. However, some issues raised with the testing;

The peer-led HIV self-testing intervention is feasible and can be implemented in a fishing community context and HIV self-testing is highly acceptable and identifies a sizeable proportion of a newly diagnosed men living with HIV who can link to HIV care services.

Secondary distribution of HIV self –kits from men too significant, others is acceptable and can be used to reach female sexual partners with HIV-ST service. findings have implications for the implementation of the Social Network Strategy (SNS) by implementing partners. There is Need to lighten-up the initial screening procedures to avoid repeat testing of known HIV+ KPS. Men can take HIV self-test kits to female partners (early identification of previously undiagnosed HIV infections). findings can also be used to inform the design of other peer-led HIV prevention interventions for other hard to reach populations

The study recommends that an Alternative HIV self-test kits distribution mechanisms besides peer-led HIVST kits distribution. Innovative approaches to improve linkage to and retention in HIV care among HIV+ men. Effects of peer-led HIVST vs other alternative kits distribution systems in improving HIV testing linkage to and retention in HIV care. Mechanisms to reach women in fishing communities with HIV self-testing services.



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