World AIDS Day: Men make a difference

 Male attitudes towards their sexuality and their treatment of women have helped create an environment in which AIDS/HIV flourishes: that is the view of aid workers in El Salvador. Speaking on the eve of World AIDS day, they said they supported this year's theme: 'Men make a difference', as it highlights the need to encourage men to work towards a solution to the AIDS/HIV pandemic. CAFOD partners in the country point out that one of the most telling statistics is that 73.5 per cent of those infected are men while 26.5 per cent are women - a ratio of 3:1. In Central America, only Honduras has reported more cases of HIV/AIDS. In response, the CAFOD-funded San Salvador Archdiocese AIDS team runs courses and workshops in parishes, schools and other institutions to prevent the spread of HIV in El Salvador. Young people working through youth drama groups and peer education have a tremendous impact in changing attitudes, a spokeswoman said. CAFOD's head of AIDS section Monica Dolan said: "Men's behaviour is shaped by all sorts of cultural and social expectations and contributes to the spread and impact of HIV, and puts them on the front line of risk. However, such behaviour can be changed. "Pointing the finger or apportioning blame is unlikely to motivate men to listen or change their behaviour. Engaging men as partners in the effort against HIV is the surest way to change the course of the epidemic." She added: "The challenge facing us as Christians is to support men from our churches and our communities as they join and strengthen efforts at reducing the transmission of HIV. we must encourage the support from their families and their communities for men already affected by HIV/AIDS."

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