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Reprod Health Matters. 2012 Dec;20(39 Suppl):103-9. doi: 10.1016/S0968-8080(12)39642-0.

The role of men as partners and fathers in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and in the promotion of sexual and reproductive health.

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Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.


Despite ample evidence documenting the positive impact of men on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and other sexual and reproductive health programs, men's engagement remains very low. This paper examines the current level and nature of male involvement and identifies opportunities for the advancement of men's constructive engagement in PMTCT and sexual and reproductive health. Conceptual and policy barriers have encouraged the inadvertent exclusion of men from PMTCT and other reproductive health services. The historic institutionalization of reproductive health as women's health has generally resulted in health services that are not welcoming of men and has undermined efforts to engage couples. This paper argues that to maximize the health outcomes of PMTCT and sexual and reproductive health programs for women and men, we must move beyond seeing men as simply "facilitating factors" that enable women to access health-care services. Men need to instead be recognized as a constituent part of reproductive health policy and practice. The paper proposes strategies for policy makers and program leaders to engage men and couples to foster communication and shared decision-making. This approach can both help to achieve health goals and engender more equitable relationships between men and women.

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