The forgotten half of the equation: randomized controlled trial of a male invitation to attend couple voluntary counselling and testing

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Increased male participation in antenatal care and uptake of couple voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) for HIV could reduce horizontal and vertical HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa.


Randomized controlled trial to compare pregnant women's acceptance of written invitations for VCT and pregnancy information sessions (PISs) – the control group – for their male sexual partners (MSPs) and uptake of VCT among these pregnancy partners in Khayelitsha, South Africa.


All women in the study accepted the invitation letters and agreed to invite their pregnancy partners to attend for VCT or PIS as requested. Thirty-five percent (175 of 500) pregnant women given VCT invitations for their partners brought their MSPs for antenatal clinic visit compared with 26% (129 of 500) given PIS invitations [relative risk (RR) 1.36, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.12–1.64, P = 0.002]. Thirty-two percent (161 of 500) MSPs in the VCT arm underwent HIV testing compared with 11% (57/500) in the PIS arm (RR 2.82, 95% CI 2.14–3.72, P < 0.001). The proportions of women and men reporting unprotected sex during the pregnancy were lower in the MSP VCT arm than in the MSP PIS arm – 25 versus 81% (RR 0.30, 95% CI 0.22–0.42, P < 0.001) and 26 versus 76% (RR 0.34, 95% CI 0.25–0.47, P < 0.001), respectively. No differences were seen in intimate partner violence.


Providing pregnant women with a written invitation for their partners increased male participation in antenatal care and uptake of couple VCT in a township in Cape Town, South Africa where community sensitization was conducted and antiretroviral therapy was available.

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