Overcoming Ethical Challenges to Engaging Men Who Have Sex with Women in HIV Research

AIDS Behav. 2021 Dec;25(12):4055-4060. doi: 10.1007/s10461-021-03185-0. Epub 2021 Feb 13.


Men who have sex with women are understudied in HIV research despite the extent to which they experience HIV-related mortality and contribute to the epidemic among women. During our experience of developing and piloting an HIV prevention intervention for men living with HIV in South Africa, and planning to have a child with an HIV-negative woman, ethical questions were posed regarding implementation of a male-centered intervention that did not require female partner participation. Two overarching ethical issues were the potential for (1) compromising women's reproductive and sexual autonomy and (2) increasing HIV-acquisition risks for the woman because the intervention efficacy was unknown. We describe here how these concerns were addressed to facilitate development of a male-centered HIV-prevention intervention. We hope this process manuscript will support researchers, clinicians, and reviewers to engage men who have sex with women in HIV prevention and care.

Keywords: Couples; Engaging men; Ethics; HIV; Reproductive health.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome*
  • Family Planning Services
  • Female
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • South Africa / epidemiology