Men desire to be involved in their partner's decision-making about vaginal microbicide use. This coincides with women's desire to inform male partners about their microbicide use. Educating men about microbicides may enhance acceptability and generate critical support for the female participants of microbicide trials. In this multiphase mixed-methods study, we adapted an educational intervention on vaginal microbicides and tested it among men (n = 45) to determine its effect on men's knowledge regarding HIV/STI, vaginal microbicides and microbicide trials. We also conducted focus group discussions (FGDs) with the female partners (K = 3, n = 43) of the study participants and community representatives (K = 2, n = 24) to obtain their views on male partner microbicide education. We analysed FGD data for key themes using content analysis. HIV and vaginal microbicide knowledge scores increased significantly among men after the educational intervention. Both women and men highly supported male partner microbicide education, in the context of existing gender relations, to increase men's understanding about microbicides, promote adherence and help women gain their partners' trust. Complex gender dynamics should be considered when designing male partner educational interventions to improve acceptability and the use of microbicides and other female-initiated HIV prevention methods.
Keywords: Kenya; Male partners; education; involvement; vaginal microbicides.