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Potential acceptability of microbicides in HIV prevention in stable marital relationships in Malawi
  1. Thomas Bisika, ScD, Programme Specialist, United Nations Population Fund, Southern Africa Regional Office and Senior Lecturer, University of Pretoria, School of Health Systems and Public Health
  1. School of Health System and Public Health, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Dr Thomas Bisika, Health Policy and Management, School of Health Systems and Public Health, University of Pretoria, Box 667, Pretoria 0001, South Africa. E-mail: thomas.bisika{at}


Background The XVII International Conference on AIDS held in Mexico City in August 2008 emphasised the importance of dual prevention using both vaccines and microbicides in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Microbicides are important because they constitute one of the potentially important female-controlled methods of HIV and sexually transmitted infection prevention, especially in Malawi where the use of the female condom has not yet been fully embraced.

Methods A qualitative study utilising focus group discussions was used to assess the acceptability of the microbicide nonoxynol-9 (N-9) as part of the ongoing Preparatory AIDS Vaccine Evaluation (PAVE) studies.

Results The study observed that men oppose the use of N-9, and that although women consider themselves at risk for HIV they caution against the unintended consequence of altering the vaginal environment with the use of microbicides, which can interfere with the men's preference for dry sex.

Discussion and conclusions Although N-9 did not produce the desired results, these can inform the development of other promising microbicide candidates. The study concludes that it is important to pay attention to how new microbicides are formulated rather than just concentrating solely on an individual product's effectiveness.

  • dry sex
  • female-controlled methods
  • HIV
  • microbicides
  • nonoxynol-9

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