Fathers’ Participation Important To Reducing Mother-To-Child HIV Transmission

In a Reuters opinion piece, Mary Mwanyika-Sando, the maternal and child health coordinator at Management and Development for Health and a New Voices fellow at the Aspen Institute, writes that fathers are key to preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission (MTCT). “[W]ith the right [antiretroviral (ARV)] treatments, we can reduce the risk of transmission from mothers to children to below five percent,” but “Tanzania’s current [MTCT] rate is 25.7 percent,” Mwanyika-Sando writes. “This is not because of poor services or treatment,” she continues, adding, “Tanzania has made significant progress by integrating preventative HIV transmission treatments within the reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health services. The missing piece of this intervention is fathers.” Mwanyika-Sando says that “shame imposed by societal norms” for women living with HIV “is one of many barriers that hinder complete delivery of comprehensive services needed to speed up the reduction of HIV transmission.” She calls for “African countries to make adjustments in their health systems to accommodate men and update their country’s policies to cater to specific needs that will reduce the barriers to men’s participation in treatment programs” (9/13).