Understanding the perspectives of male partners of adolescent girls and young women, and effectiveness of strategies to link them to HIV services: Implementation Science research for the DREAMS Initiative in Uganda

Summary of the Project

This research is part of a portfolio of implementation science (IS) studies for the DREAMS Initiative, a program to significantly reduce new HIV infections among AGYW in high-incidence areas of 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Similar to many other African countries, AGYW are particularly vulnerable to HIV in Uganda, which has an adult HIV prevalence of 7.6%, and a prevalence among young women ages 15-24 of 3.7% versus 2.3% among young men. It is important to understand both AGYW and their male partners’ perspectives on dynamics and risk perceptions within their relationships, as well as to find effective ways of linking men to underutilized HIV prevention and clinical services, including HIV counseling and testing (HCT) and early antiretroviral therapy (ART). Currently, little is known in Uganda about the characteristics and perspectives of male partners of AGYW, dynamics within their sexual relationships, and what they want from HIV services, information that could improve service uptake and impact. In addition, the DREAMS Initiative in Uganda includes various programmatic strategies to reach and retain male partners of AGYW in these services, presenting an opportunity to explore those strategies in depth.

The study addresses 2 main objectives (1) to improve understanding of the sexual dynamics between AGYW and their male sexual partners and what male partners want from HIV services, in diverse locations in the country; and (2) to explore DREAMS strategies to link male partners of AGYW to key clinical HIV services (HCT, ART). The findings of the study will be used to inform programs and policies that aim to improve health programming and overall well-being of girls and their male partners in Uganda and other similar settings.

The research will be carried out in an urban and rural location within three districts where the DREAMS Initiative is taking place: Mukono (Central1 region), Sembabule (Central2 region) and Gulu (Mid Northern region).

Collaborating Institutions
1. Population Council, Washington
2. Child Health and Development Centre Makerere University College of Health Sciences.
3. Others are from whom we receive field research support include PEPFAR-Uganda DREAMS coordinators, Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP), Mildmay, and Strengthening Decentralization for Sustainability (SDS).