Exploration and description of barriers to male participation in antenatal and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (pmtct) services in Mumbwa district, in Zambia
Nguni, Catherine Musakanya
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The reproductive health of women is hugely dependent on the involvement of their male partners. Men also serve as gatekeepers to women’s access to reproductive health services. Male involvement is an important recommendation for the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) program as their participation in antenatal care and HIV testing has been found to decrease infant HIV infection and increase HIV free survival. Male involvement is not just about promoting men to accompany their partners to antenatal clinic, but for men to provide supportive roles in their families, and also to bring men into HIV preventive and care services. Male involvement in PMTCT is defined as the fathers’ active involvement in attending antenatal care services and HIV testing during the antenatal period as well as the couple’s acceptance of PMTCT if the mother is found to be HIV positive. Men are traditionally not directly involved in their partner’s health in many sub-Saharan countries, although they most often make decisions about use of services. They may provide financial support but attending health services with their partner is not seen as part of the male’s role. There are therefore huge challenges in efforts to get men involved in reproductive health services and there is a need to better understand how to promote male involvement in different settings. Male involvement in PMTCT was adopted by the Zambian Government in 1999 but not much is known on how best to initiate and develop male involvement in their partner’s health.