Role of male partners in the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission
Alfred Osoti,1–3 Hannah Han,4 John Kinuthia,1,5 Carey Farquhar3,4,6
1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya; 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, AIC Kijabe Hospital, Kijabe, Kenya; 3Department of Epidemiology, 4Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, USA; 5Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya; 6Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
Abstract: There is emerging evidence that in resource-limited settings with a high human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) burden, male partner involvement in prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) is associated with improved uptake of effective interventions and infant HIV-free survival. There is also increasing evidence that male partner involvement positively impacts non-HIV related outcomes, such as skilled attendance at delivery, exclusive breastfeeding, uptake of effective contraceptives, and infant immunizations. Despite these associations, male partner involvement remains low, especially when offered in the standard antenatal clinic setting. In this review we explore strategies for improving rates of antenatal male partner HIV testing and argue that the role of male partners in PMTCT must evolve from one of support for HIV-infected pregnant and breastfeeding women to one of comprehensive engagement in prevention of primary HIV acquisition, avoidance of unintended pregnancies, and improved HIV-related care and treatment for the HIV-infected and uninfected women, their partners, and children. Involving men in all components of PMTCT has potential to contribute substantially to achieving virtual elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission; promoting partner-friendly programs and policies, as well as pursuing research into numerous gaps in knowledge identified in this review, will help drive this process.
Keywords: male involvement, limited-resource settings, maternal child health
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