Centre for International Health

HIV prevention; a female responsibility?

Most men do not involve themselves in programmes for prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child. HIV testing of men at the antenatal clinic is met with resistance.

Main content

"It is her responsibility": partner involvement in prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV programmes, northern Tanzania.
Falnes EF, Moland KM, Tylleskär T, de Paoli MM, Msuya SE, Engebretsen IM.
Journal of the International AIDS Society, April 2011

Partner involvement is fundamental in prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) programmes, but has been difficult to achieve. In a recent study researchers from the Centre for International Health aimed to explore the acceptability of the PMTCT programme components and to identify structural and cultural challenges to male involvement. This study has now been published in the Journal of International AIDS Society.

Study in Tanzania
The study was conducted during 2007-2008 in rural and urban areas of Moshi in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. Mixed methods were used and included focus group discussions with fathers and mothers, in-depth interviews with fathers, mothers and health personnel, and a survey of 426 mothers bringing their four-week-old infants for immunization at five reproductive and child health clinics.

Skepticism from the men

Routine testing for HIV of women at the antenatal clinic proved to be highly acceptable and appreciated by men. However, other programme components, notably partner testing, condom use and the infant feeding recommendations, were met with continued resistance. Very few men joined their wives for testing and thus missed out on PMTCT counseling.

Gender hierarchy is a challenge

Deep-seated ideas about gender roles and hierarchy are major obstacles to male participation in the PMTCT programme. Empowering men to participate by creating a space within the PMTCT programme that is male friendly should be feasible and should be highly prioritized for the PMTCT programme to achieve its potential.

Read the full article in Journal of the International AIDS society