An increasing number of men are proving that they can be true partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Zambia, where the HIV epidemic continues to disproportionately devastate women and girls. In Luapula Province, husbands and boyfriends have started to travel with their pregnant partners to antenatal clinic visits, encouraging their wives to get health checkups before giving birth.
When Daniel Chipeleka, 30, learned that his wife Miriam was pregnant with their fifth child, he went with her to Chembe Rural Health Center, located just north of Mansa town on the Congolese border.
In 2005, Daniel became a believer in proactively taking care of his own health and his family’s health after becoming a participant in the Safe Motherhood Action Group, a project initiated by a U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) partner, the Health Communication Partnership (HCP). As a participant of this group, Daniel learned about his important role in making sure that his wife delivered a healthy baby.
Daniel got tested for HIV with his wife and learned more about preventing the transmission of the deadly virus from mother to child. He said, “Coming to the health facility with my wife will help us know of our HIV status, and thereafter plan our future together.”
Through this program, nearly 70 women are tested and counseled at the antenatal care clinic each month, and 75% of the clients who attend the clinic at the health center come with their husbands.
The timing could not have been better for Daniel and Miriam to be active in the Safe Motherhood Action Group: That same year another PEPFAR-supported project, the Zambia Prevention, Care and Treatment Partnership (ZPCT), started providing PMTCT and HIV testing at the Chembe Rural Health Center. Before ZPCT’s project began, Chembe had no such services.