Male involvement pivotal in vertical HIV transmission

By Edward Makuzva

It was proved that male involvement in the Prevention-of-Mother-To Child-Transmission (PMTCT) can reduce the risk of transmission of HIV from pregnant women to their babies.

Prevention of vertical transmission of HIV has evolved over the past two decades. Public health agencies advocate for male involvement as a positive way during pregnancy. Women with spousal support don’t hide their tablets and are open to share prevention methods during intercourse than their counterparts who hide their status.

Moud Chinembiri (pictured), a board member for Pan African Women Living with HIV, on Friday , in the capital at a Media Science Cafe on Paediatric HIV in Zimbabwe organised by Health Communicators Forum Zimbabwe (HCF) facilitated by the Humanitarian Information Facilitation Centre( HIFC) was speaking at a health science cafe.

The cafes are funded by AVAC.

Moud said that uptake and adherence to the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) interventions are a challenge to most women if there is no male partner involvement.

The PMTCT programme encourages spouses to be a part of any pregnancy.

Chinembiri highlighted that transmission of HIV from the mother to the baby occurs during pregnancy, labour, and breastfeeding.

She revealed that testing as a couple in antenatal care (ANC) promotes couple communication, mutual disclosure, mutual decision-making on issues to do with safer sex, infant feeding, and family planning. Support from a male partner makes a woman adhere to PMTCT.

Chinembiri added that male partner involvement in PMTCT may reduce the risk of mother to child transmission of HIV (MTCT) by more than 40% .
“Testing for HIV as a couple is necessary. We have noticed high numbers of Gender Based violence, which resulted in some mothers taking medication in private. Some feared their husbands, which also resulted in more children born with HIV.

“There are many potential benefits to supporting couples to test together for HIV infection and to mutually disclose their HIV status — most importantly, that together they can then make informed decisions about HIV prevention and reproductive health, including contraception and conception. These benefits are relevant for all couples, whether they have the same HIV.

“Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to help you take steps to keep you and your partners healthy.If you test positive, you can be connected to HIV care to start treatment with HIV medicine as soon as possible. People with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed can live long and healthy lives,” Chinembiri explained.

She added that male partner involvement in PMTCT counters prevailing traditional gender norms in many patriarchal societies in sub-Saharan Africa where men have seen health seeking in SRH to be a “women’s task”.
Statistics revealed that Zimbabwe is one of the countries hardest hit by HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. As of 2019, nearly 1.4 million people are living with HIV in Zimbabwe – 84,000 of these individuals are children under the age of 15.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *