The Men’s Health Network Nigeria engaged beneficiaries and local champions to provide comprehensive HIV services to high-risk men.
Nigeria has the second highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world. Yet many Nigerian men remain underserved by sexual health and HIV prevention services. This is mainly a result of discrimination, stigmatization, and criminalization of certain sexual behaviors that make it difficult to identify and reach men at greatest risk for HIV and AIDS. In response, the Population Council worked with in-country partners from 2008 to 2013 to establish the Men’s Health Network Nigeria (MHNN) and provide comprehensive, male-friendly HIV services.
MHNN sought to broadly increase knowledge and understanding of men's health issues, boost levels of preventive behaviors, and improve the capacity of service providers to provide critical sexual health and HIV prevention services. Working with private- and public-sector providers, the network employed a social franchise model to increase the availability of HIV counseling and testing; STI testing and management; and condoms and lubricant to high-risk groups, including men who have sex with men, male sex workers, drug users, and clients of female sex workers. In addition, MHNN identified and enlisted respected members of community-based organizations of men who have sex with men, sex workers, and drug users. These community leaders engaged their peers, provided HIV prevention and referral information, and mobilized their contemporaries to make use of the services provided by the network.
By the end of 2013, the network had reached approximately 100,000 clients with a behavior change communication intervention and more than 78,000 with HIV testing and counseling services. Additionally, researchers used evidence generated by the network to successfully advocate for the inclusion of high-risk men, including men who have sex with men, in Nigeria’s national and state HIV prevention plans. Efforts are underway to scale up the network throughout the country and to conduct an additional survey to better illustrate and build on the network’s success.