In the maternal and reproductive health fields, we often discuss the importance of involving men. While there is certainly evidence that male involvement can lead to better health outcomes, there are potential downsides that are rarely discussed.
A new report from PlusNews investigates prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in Kenya and finds some possible drawbacks to involving men in certain situations:
There is limited research into the area of gender-based violence following HIV-testing, but a presentation by the NGO, the Sonke Gender Justice Network, at the 2010 International AIDS Society conference in Vienna, Austria, reported that women’s experiences upon disclosing their status to their male partners were often “complex and positive”: some studies reported violence levels of up to 14 percent, while others stated that about half of HIV-positive women said their partners reacted supportively to the disclosure.
According to Beatrice Misoga, PMTCT programme officer with the AIDS Population Health Integrated Assistance (APHIA Plus), gender-based violence is more common in discordant relationships where the man is HIV-negative. “Male involvement has helped realize success with PMTCT programmes where it has been applied because prevention of mother to child transmission is a family issue, but yes, there have been challenges in certain aspects like the possibility of gender-based violence targeting women and more so in a situation where the male partner is not willing to be part of it.”