Ethiopia, is one of sub Saharan African counties, has been facing highest number of mother to child transmission (MTCT) of Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV). Prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV program plays a big role in reducing the Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV. Nevertheless, its effectiveness depends on involvement of male partners considering the fact that men are decision makers in Ethiopia families. They make important decisions that have major impact on women’s health. Male partner involvement has been seen to increase uptake of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) services and their involvement underscores their importance in reducing HIV infection in children. But, the program strategy is facing challenge of low male partner involvement in PMTCT services (1)
HIV pandemic created a huge challenge to the survival of humankind worldwide. At the end of 2012, an estimated 35.3 million people were living with HIV globally, including 3.3 million children less than 15 years. There were 2.3 million new HIV infections, including 260, 000 among children less than 15 years (2). More than 90% of the children who acquired HIV infection live in Sub- Saharan Africa. In the same year, in African countries, about 25.0 million people were estimated living with HIV including 2.9 million children. There were 1.6 million new infections and 230,000 million among children less than 15 years and 1.2 million Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) related death (3).
Ethiopia is one of sub Saharan African counties facing high AIDS burden, at the end of 2012; approximately 760,000 people were estimated living with HIV, with 20,000 new HIV infections and estimated AIDS related death were 47,000. There were 9,500 new infections among children (4). Besides the dominant heterosexual transmission, vertical HIV transmission from mother to child accounts for more than 90% of pediatric AIDS and without any intervention about half of them will die before their second year birth day. The prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) plays a major role in limiting the number of children being infected by HIV. Without any intervention, 20 -50% of infant would be infected but by implementing effective PMTCT program, the overall risk can be reduced to less than 5% with breast feeding population (5).
As a result, Ethiopia adopted the World Health Organization (WHO) four pronged PMTCT strategies as a key entry point to reduce risk of HIV transmission from mother to child and care for women, men and families. These include primary prevention of HIV infection, prevention of unintended pregnancies among HIV-infected women, prevention of HIV transmission from HIV-infected women to their child, provision of care and support to women infected with HIV, their infants and families (6).
PMTCT of HIV, provided integrally with maternal, neonatal and child health MNCH services by the Government of Ethiopia to mitigate the impacts of the HIV epidemic in general population and particular in children. The achievement of the National PMTCT program to date is not in parallel to other Maternal and Child Health Programs. Very serious gaps remain in terms of utilization of available service by the pregnant mother. The federal Ministry of Health identified some of the challenges; one of the challenges is low male partner involvement.
Studies from Eastern and Southern Africa showed that testing rates ranging from 8% to 15% of male partners at antenatal clinic (7 8, 9).
In this regard, the knowledge and awareness of male partner on the PMTCT matters for the active participation play crucial role for the effective implementation of the program because Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) programs and services have been focused primarily on women. Men have often lacked information to make informed decisions about healthy behaviors and the roles they might play in promoting overall family health, including accessing HIV prevention, care and treatment services. Much is not known about the extent to which male partners having adequate information about sexual reproductive health in general and PMTCT program in particular. Hence, this study attempts to asses’ knowledge, attitude and practice of male partner involvement in PMTCT program.
The Government of Ethiopia undertaking different efforts to mitigate the impacts of HIV epidemic among the whole population in general and among children in particular. One of the strategies is providing PMTCT services integrated with maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH) services as one strategy. Male involvement has been recognized as a priority for PMTCT programs (10).
Different scholars documented the impact of men involvement on the various components of PMTCT programs. Men play an important role in terms of women risk of acquiring HIV, prevention in terms of condom use in the couple’s relationship and male partners also influence women’s utilization of service including testing for HIV and on decision of infant feeding options (11, 12, 13, 14, and 15).
The prevalence of MTCT is high still now. Even if MTCT was decreased from time to time, the deference was not enough to eradicate MTCT. Generally, the prevalence of MTCT in Ethiopia was 9.93. The prevalence of MTCT in Dredwa was 15.7% and in SNNPR was 4.16%. This prevalence indicates that MTCT is high even if PMTCT was given. This indicates that PMTCT program was not effective that was given before. This indicates that PMTCT program was not effective as a result of different influencing factors. One of the factors may be due to the low level of the knowledge; attitude and practice of male partners for the HIV infected pregnant mothers. Therefore, the study was aimed to assess the level of knowledge, attitude and practice of male partners of pregnant women, so that, level of knowledge, attitude and practice of male partners of pregnant women would be known.
However, little research is done to assess knowledge, attitude and practice toward MTCT/PMTCT program where these studies are limited in their scope, which focus only on pregnant mothers and there is a gap in examining knowledge and attitude of male partners. Assessing the knowledge, attitudes and practice of male partner of pregnant women at ANC and PMTCT program is vital for interventions on men.