Factors influencing male involvement in prevention of mother-to-child transmission(PMTC) of HIV: A case study of Lusaka District
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One of the ways of HIV transmission is from the mother to her unborn child during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding, otherwise known as Mother-to-Child-Transmission of HIV. Efforts to curtail this form of transmission of HIV have been made by the government and stakeholders through the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV programme. Though uptake has been visible in some quarters, the challenge to capture every pregnant woman to first test for HIV and then enroll for uptake if found positive is great. One reason given for shunning such services has been lack of male involvement (GHAP, 2009). This study examined factors that influence male involvement in PMTCT in Lusaka district. The survey was conducted among 200 male residents in Chelstone, Avondale and Chainda between January and March 2013. Information on trends of PMTCT among residents was obtained from Chelstone and Chainda clinics Maternal and Child Health (MCH) staff. Results revealed that knowledge influences attitude and thereby increases involvement. Stigma and fear of knowing their status are deterring factors among men to go for Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) with their spouses during antenatal care. It is clear from the results that men would choose not to undergo VCT with their spouses but would rather support them through PMTCT services once they test positive for HIV. Lack of confidentiality during couple counselling and among health care givers is another reason men choose to stay away but support their spouses even though they themselves would not go for an HIV test. It is therefore imperative that efforts be made to encourage men to take part in VCT and not only sit back and watch their spouses undergo the process. The government and other stake holders should endeavour to improve the situation by instituting HIV and AIDS programmes in the workplace that must include aspects of the importance of partnership in reproductive and family health. Also, health care givers should encourage men in their communities to be fully involved in pregnancy and birth preparedness by promoting facility based deliveries where men are encouraged to be present without fear of stigmatization. Healthcare providers must disseminate information on PMTCT in workplaces as well as communities. If most of these approaches are to work right, stakeholders must improve on the healthcare workforce to improve the ratio of practitioner to patient.