Pregnant and breastfeeding women's prospective acceptability of two biomedical HIV prevention approaches in Sub Saharan Africa: A multisite qualitative analysis using the Theoretical Framework of Acceptability

PLoS One. 2021 Nov 16;16(11):e0259779. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0259779. eCollection 2021.


HIV infection during pregnancy and breastfeeding has implications for maternal health. Between May- November 2018, we explored prospective acceptability of two novel HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) products, oral pills and vaginal rings, through focus group discussions with 65 pregnant and breastfeeding women in Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe. Qualitative analysis was completed, guided by the Theoretical Framework of Acceptability (TFA). First, a deductive thematic analysis was applied to relevant coded data, into the seven TFA constructs (Affective Attitude; Burden; Ethicality, Intervention Coherence; Opportunity Costs; Perceived Effectiveness; Self-efficacy). Next, an iterative analysis was completed to generate themes within each of the TFA constructs. Women's positive attitudes towards daily oral PrEP highlighted the familiarity of taking pills, understanding the purpose of taking pills, and the perception that it is an effective method to protect mothers and babies from HIV during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Women emphasized the ease of using the ring given its monthly duration that lowers burden on the user, its discreetness and invisibility once in place. The TFA analysis highlighted how acceptability of both methods could be enhanced by focusing on perceptions of the end users (i.e. the women) and not just the products themselves. This approach provided insights into how to refine the intervention materials and plans for implementation.

Grant support

The MTN-041 study was designed and implemented by the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases through individual grants (UM1AI068633, UM1AI068615 and UM1AI106707), with co-funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health, all components of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the 'author contributions' section.