A number of men in Gwanda District may soon develop breasts as they have reportedly been consuming birth control pills which they would have mistaken for antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), Matabeleland South provincial medical officer Dr William Busumani has said.

According to a report on a PMTCT workshop held at Manama Bible School in the district in March, a majority of men in the district are ashamed to go for HIV testing. The report reveals that they let their wives get tested and if they are found positive and given Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), the men then steal the medication from the women.

It was revealed at the workshop that most of the men could not tell the difference between the drugs and inadvertently stole and consumed birth control pills.

Dr Busumani told participants that if there were cases of men taking family planning pills, they may soon develop feminine features such as breasts. He said it was a criminal offence for couples to share ARVs prescribed for one person.

"Police should arrest people who do that because a patient is given a month's supply and sharing with someone else means the drugs will be finished in the middle of the month. For the remaining days, it means the patient would be defaulting," he said.

Some reports state that some people were on ART without the knowledge of their partners, a situation that has posed challenges in trying to eliminate HIV and Aids in Gwanda District.

Mphendulwa Mandaba Moyo a Manama Home Based Care Programs officer said some HIV positive women in Buvuma area revealed that they were seeing red over their ignorant husbands who did not want to go for HIV tests.

"The problem with men is that they don't want to go for HIV testing but use their wives as test metres. Some women from a number of households in Buvuma who are on ART (Antiretroviral Treatment) are facing serious challenges because their husbands steal their prescribed ARVs. The husbands even go on to consume family planning pills mistaking them for ARVs," said Moyo.

"Some men resist going for HIV tests but push their wives to do so and if the wives test positive, they (men) presume they would also be positive. As a result, they 'secretly try to boost their immune system' by stealing ARVs prescribed to their wives despite being ignorant of their HIV status."

He said in trying to protect their ego, some men preferred not to be tested for HIV adding; "However, a research we conducted last year revealed that more men are dying because if they fall sick, some opt to visit traditional healers. There is fear of going to hospital among some men," said Moyo.

Birth control pills are taken daily by some women to prevent pregnancy while ARVs are drugs taken by HIV positive people to help boost their immune system.

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