Since August 2012, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) has partnered with FHI 360 to engage men in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and other family planning services in Uganda. The project, titled, “Promoting Constructive Male Engagement to Increase Use of PMTCT Services,” encouraged clients to seek HIV/AIDS care and treatment services at eight health facilities in the Kabale District of Uganda.
Studies have shown that male involvement in PMTCT and other family planning activities can reduce the risks of vertical HIV transmission (mother-to-child) and infant mortality by more than 40 percent. Educating male partners about HIV in general and how it is transmitted is essential to successful, long-term approaches to eliminating HIV/AIDS. A 2008 study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and South Africa’s University of KwaZulu Natal found that male involvement in PMTCT was linked to more people taking advantage of HIV testing, antiretroviral treatment, condoms, and support for infant feeding choices. What’s more, some women say they need their partner’s support in order to access HIV prevention, care, and treatment services, including PMTCT.
To encourage male involvement, team members from EGPAF and FHI 360 consulted with leaders in the Kabale district, including district health officials, civic leaders, religious leaders, politicians, and community groups to discuss matters related to gender and HIV and family planning. The community leaders then nominated well-respected men from their community to serve as champions (called “Emanzi” in the local language) and role models for their peers and lead discussions on gender and health issues in their communities.