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Open Access Research article

Stakeholders’ perceptions on factors influencing male involvement in prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV services in Blantyre, Malawi

Alinane Linda Nyondo1*, Angela Faith Chimwaza2 and Adamson Sinjani Muula1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health, College of Medicine, University of Malawi, P/Bag 360, Blantyre, Malawi

2 Kamuzu College of Nursing, University of Malawi, P.O Box 415, Blantyre, Malawi

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:691  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-691

Published: 7 July 2014

Abstract

Background

Male Involvement (MI) in the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) services is essential in a patriarchal society where men are decision makers of the household. Male partners have a role in the woman’s risk of acquiring HIV, uptake of HIV testing and participation in Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) prevention programmes. Although MI is important for uptake of PMTCT interventions, it remains low in Africa. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that promote and hinder MI in PMTCT services in antenatal care (ANC) services in Blantyre, Malawi. Understanding of the factors that influence MI will assist in developing strategies that will involve men more in the programme thereby improving the uptake of PMTCT and HIV testing and counselling services by women and men respectively.

Methods

An exploratory qualitative study was conducted from December 2012 to January 2013 at South Lunzu Health Centre (SLHC) in Blantyre, Malawi. It consisted of six face to face Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) with health care workers and four Focus Group discussions (FGDs) with 18 men and 17 pregnant women attending antenatal care at the clinic. The FGDs were divided according to sex and age. All FGDs and KIIs were digitally recorded and simultaneously transcribed and translated verbatim into English. Data were analysed using thematic content analysis.

Results

Participants in both FGDs and KIIs identified the following barriers: lack of knowledge of MI in PMTCT, socioeconomic factors, relationship issues, timidity to be seen in a woman’s domain, unplanned and or extramarital pregnancies, fear of knowing one's HIV status, unwillingness to be associated with the service, health facility based factors, peer influence and cultural factors. The factors that would potentially promote male involvement were categorized into community, health facility and personal or family level factors.

Conclusions

The factors that may hinder or promote MI arise from different sources. The success of MI lies on recognizing sources of barriers and averting them. Factors that promote MI need to be implemented at different levels of health care.