Objective: The pipeline of vaginal microbicides for HIV prevention has expanded to include products for multipurpose prevention, but the interests of potential users and those advising on use have not been sufficiently investigated. Rather, assumptions about interest in multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs) are inferred from what is known about acceptability and use of microbicides or contraceptives.
Design and setting: This paper presents data on concerns and preferences for multipurpose prevention of HIV and pregnancy. Data were collected in two microbicide gel studies in Malawi and Zimbabwe. Participants were women using candidate vaginal products, their male partners, health professionals and community stakeholders.
Methods: An individual interview was conducted with participants. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, coded for content and analysed for key themes.
Results: Participants indicated strong interest in a vaginal HIV prevention product that could also prevent pregnancy. Reasons for this interest were convenience, problems with adverse effects with current contraceptive methods, concerns about long-term effects of contraceptives, and concerns about the health burdens of HIV infection during pregnancy. The main disadvantage of an MPT was recognition that while interest in preventing HIV is constant, contraceptive needs change over time.
Conclusion: The study population indicated support for an MPT to prevent HIV and pregnancy. This support may be further strengthened if the product is also available for prevention of only HIV. Women and men will be more willing to use an MPT if they can be reassured that its use will have no long-term effect on fertility.
Keywords: HIV/AIDS; microbicides; multipurpose prevention technologies.
© 2014 Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.