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AIDS Care. 2013;25(1):43-8. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2012.687822. Epub 2012 Jun 7.

Where are the men? Targeting male partners in preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission.

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Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.


Involvement of male partners may increase adherence to and improve outcomes of programs to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT). Greater understanding of factors impeding male voluntary HIV counseling and testing (VCT) is needed. A cross-sectional study was conducted in Tshwane, South Africa. Semi-structured interviews were completed with men whose partners had recently been pregnant. Of 124 men who participated, 94% believed male HIV testing was important, but 40% had never been tested. Of those tested, 32% were tested during the pregnancy, while 37% were tested afterward. Fifty-eight percent of men reported that their female partners had disclosed their test results during pregnancy. A man's likelihood of testing during pregnancy was associated with prior discussion of testing in PMTCT, knowing the female partner had tested, and her disclosure of the test result (all p<0.05). In terms of increasing male-partner HIV testing rates, 74% of the men reported they would respond favorably to a written invitation for VCT from their partners. Based on themes that emerged during the interviews, six partner invitation cards to encourage male involvement in PMTCT were designed. Responses to the cards were elicited from 158 men and 409 women. One invitation card framed by the themes of fatherhood and the baby was selected by 41% of men and 31% of women as the most likely for women undergoing PMTCT to bring to their male partners and the most successful at encouraging men to be tested. In conclusion, this study found that a substantial proportion of men whose partners were recently pregnant had never been tested themselves; of those who had tested, most had done so only after the pregnancy. Encouraging partner communication and clinic attendance using an invitation card could facilitate increased male testing and participation in PMTCT.

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