Background: Despite efforts to increase the uptake of prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services, coverage is still lower than desired in developing countries. A lack of male partner involvement in PMTCT services is a major barrier for women to access these services.
Objectives: To evaluate the impact of interventions which aim to enhance male involvement to increase women's uptake of PMTCT interventions in developing countries.
Search methods: We searched the following databases from the year 2000 to November 2011: Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, the WHO Global Health Library, ClinicalTrials.gov, Current Controlled Trials, AEGIS, CROI, IAS, IAC web sites.
Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs), cluster-randomised controlled trials, quasi-randomised controlled trials, controlled before and after studies and interrupted time series studies assessing interventions to increase male involvement for improvement of uptake PMTCT services in low- and middle-income countries..
Data collection and analysis: Two reviewers independently searched, screened, assessed study quality and extracted data. A third reviewer resolved any disagreement.
Main results: Only one study met the inclusion criteria, an RCT conducted in Tanzania between May 2003 and October 2004. Women in the intervention group (n=760) received a letter for their male partners, which invited them to return together to receive Couple Voluntary Counselling and Testing (CVCT) for HIV. Women in the control group (n=761) received individual HIV VCT during their first ANC visit and then usual care. The percentages of women who received HIV VCT and collected their results were 48%, 45% and 39% in the intervention group and 93%, 78% and 71% in the control group (p <0,001). Only 33% of women in the intervention group returned with their male partners and only 47% of them went through the whole CVCT process. The proportion of women who received HIV prophylaxis at delivery was not different between the two arms (27% in the intervention and 22% in the control group). The study had a high risk of bias.
Authors' conclusions: We found only one eligible study that assessed the effectiveness of male involvement in improving women's uptake of PMTCT services, which only focused on one part of the perinatal PMTCT cascade. We urgently need more rigorously designed studies assessing the impact of male engagement interventions on women's uptake of PMTCT services to know if this intervention can contribute to improve uptake of PMTCT services and reduce vertical transmission of HIV in children.