HIV Testing for Men Through Faith Constituencies in South Africa

HIV Testing for Men Through Faith Constituencies in South Africa


The uptake of HIV counselling and testing (HCT) and antiretroviral therapy (ART) in South Africa is significantly lower among men than women. Men may be reluctant to visit the healthcare facilities for HCT for various reasons including lack of time due to work and fear of stigma. INERELA will address this testing gap by counselling men, including men who have sex with men (MSM) attending religious congregations in South Africa. MSM are an important key population in the South African HIV epidemic. This project has three stages: 1) Development of a training and implementation module for religious leaders (RLs) on sexuality, acceptance of sexual diversity, stigma eradication, importance of living openly and positively, HIV and HCT, 2) Train and support 20 RLs to implement the module in their congregations including the four-week build-up to HCT day, 3) Scale-up of the programme by requesting each RL to mobilize five other RLs in their local region, followed by training and implementation.

Project details

Time frame
30 December 2015 - 29 December 2018
€ 239,525
Active in
South Africa

Soweto and Mopani districts

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To increase the number of men living with HIV that know their status in Soweto and Mopani districts, by providing HIV-testing services in religious congregations

Community groups

approximately 2500 men testing for HIV in the congregations targeted


At present, an estimated 33.000 adult men are living with HIV in Mopani District and 55.000 in Soweto. Of these, 62% know their HIV status and 35% are currently on antiretroviral therapy.

Current efforts, including a large facility-based HCT campaign, have not managed to increase the participation of men in the HIV programme. A different, innovative approach to existing structures for HCT and outreach is required. Research and anecdotal evidence has shown that RLs can play a critical role in providing testing, treatment and care services to the general population as they are entrenched within the community and hold a position of high social value and moral authority.
In particular, MSMs are not willing to be tested because of the stigma associated with their sexual preference. However, these men including MSMs do attend religious services during week-ends. Thus, if testing is provided at the doorstep of the churches during week-ends, these men can be encouraged by their RLs to get tested. This would fill a gap in terms of reaching out to men in general and MSM in particular.


< 200,000 new HIV infections globally
Contributed within this project
Everyone living with HIV worldwide receives treatment
Contributed within this project

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