HIV knowledge, disclosure and sexual risk among pregnant women and their partners in rural South Africa
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Partner involvement has been deemed fundamental for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, although
it remains difficult to achieve. This study aimed to explore the attitudes and behaviours of pregnant women and their partners who
participated in a behavioural risk reduction intervention in six community health centres in the Mpumalanga province of South
Africa. Qualitative methods only were used in this study. Women and their partners took part in four gender-concordant
groups that addressed HIV, PMTCT, disclosure of HIV status and safer sex practices. The results indicate that men value and
understand the importance of being involved in women's reproductive health, although some components of the PMTCT
programme such as condom use were still met with some resistance. Participants demonstrated high levels of HIV- and sexually
transmitted infection-related knowledge. Men lacked knowledge about PMTCT but were interested in acquiring information so
that they could support their partners. All groups highlighted the emotional and physical benefits of disclosing one's HIV status.
The involvement of men in antenatal care has the potential to prevent women from becoming infected with HIV both during
pregnancy and post-partum when they are more vulnerable to infection and have a high risk of transmission to the infant.
There is a need for interventions that focus on both increasing male involvement and promoting condom use during pregnancy.