Developing national strategies for reaching men with HIV testing services in Tanzania: results from the male catch-up plan

Donaldson F. Conserve, Jumanne Issango, Andrew M. Kilale, Bernard Njau, Patrick Nhigula, Peter Memiah, Gaspar Mbita, Augustine T. Choko, Akeen Hamilton and Gary King
Publication year: 


According to the 2016–2017 Tanzania HIV Impact Survey, 55% of men diagnosed with HIV during the survey self-reported that they were unaware of their HIV status. As a response, the Government of Tanzania launched a Test and Treat campaign in June 2018 with a focus on reaching men and developed the 2018-2020 Male Catch-Up plan. This article reports (1) the enablers and barriers of HIV testing services (HTS) uptake among men (2) and describes the strategies that were proposed as part of the Male Catch-Up Plan to address some of these barriers.


Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with 23 men in Dar es Salaam to explore HTS enablers and barriers. To develop the Male Catch-Up Plan strategies, a desk review of published studies, and analyses of national implementers of HIV/AIDS interventions were conducted. An additional 123 interviews were also carried out with key implementers of HIV/AIDS interventions, healthcare workers, secondary school boys and members of the community in Iringa and Tanga.


Enablers of HTS included the desire to check one’s health, high HIV risk perception, wanting to protect oneself if tested negative, and being encouraged by their sexual partners. Barriers of HTS were fear of a positive test result, and low HIV risk perception. Proposed strategies from the Male Catch-Up Plan to address these barriers included non-biomedical and biomedical approaches. Non-biomedical strategies are social and cultural approaches to promote an enabling environment to encourage health seeking behavior, safe behavior, and providing peer education programs and social marketing to promote condoms. Biomedical approaches consisted of expanding targeted HIV testing, HIV self-testing, and integrating HIV services with other health services.


A number of barriers contribute to the low uptake of HTS among men in Tanzania. National strategies have been developed to address these HTS barriers and guide the national Test and Treat campaign focusing on increasing HTS uptake among men.