Mapping Pathways is a multi-national project to develop and nurture a research-driven, community-led global understanding of the emerging evidence base around the adoption of antiretroviral-based prevention strategies to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The evidence base is more than results from clinical trials - it must include stakeholder and community perspectives as well.

04 January 2012

PMTCT Requires Greater Male Participation in Ethiopia

via PlusNews Global

Ethiopia's new plan to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015 cannot be attained unless men are more meaningfully involved in reproductive health, experts say.

"Among the pregnant women who come to our hospital, less than 10 percent of them come with their partners," said Etalem Gebrehiwot, head nurse at the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) wing of Gandhi Memorial Hospital. "Those who find out that they are living with the virus usually face a problem while taking medicines, given that most prefer to take it without the knowledge of their partners."

Studies show that low male partner involvement is one of the challenges to the success of the country's PMTCT programme.

According to experts, men's involvement in PMTCT can have a positive impact on PMTCT by encouraging their partners to visit antenatal clinics and have skilled health workers attend the birth of their children. In a 2010 Kenyan study, male partner involvement in PMTCT reduced the risks of vertical transmission and infant mortality by more than 40 percent compared to no involvement.

"The biggest challenge we are currently facing is to convince mothers to get tested in order to determine that they are eligible for PMTCT services... the major reason for their resistance is lack of consent from their husbands or partners, who are more influential in family matters including this," said Aster Shewa, who supervises Zewditu Hospital antiretroviral service centre in Addis Ababa.

"Besides, after they know their status, most HIV-positive mothers refrain from disclosing it, which usually impacts the way they use PMTCT services and their effectiveness," she added.

Many men do not see the advantages of an HIV test; one father, whose wife gave birth to a daughter in November 2011, told IRIN/PlusNews: "We are married - what is there to test about?"

"At the moment, hospitals with PMTCT services are increasing, and we have to work hard in convincing pregnant women, along with their partners, to use health facilities with the service in order to reach zero new infections," said Aster.

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[Content that is linked from other sources is for informational purposes and should not construe a Mapping Pathways position.]

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