Researchers investigate acceptability of potential HIV prevention device in Africa

November 11, 2008

( -- For some women in the poorest parts of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, being paid for sex is one of the few ways they are able to feed themselves and their children. In a region hit hard by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, they are at very high risk for contracting the disease.

Georgia State University researchers recently investigated whether these women, and their male clients, would accept a potential method of preventing HIV/AIDS which allows women to take control of their own health.

The device, an intravaginal ring containing chemicals microbicides, has the potential to let women reduce their risk of contracting the disease in an environment where many of their clients refuse to use condoms.

“This group of women are really stressed, and are often supporting children,” said Donna Smith, a research associate with the Georgia State Institute of Public Health. “These are not women who are making a decent living. They’re just getting by and just one client walking away could be the difference between eating or not.”

Working with colleagues such as Frances Priddy of Emory University, as well as Sabina Wakasiaka and the late Job Joab Bwayo of Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative, Smith and data coordinator Tina Hoang asked questions among female sex workers in the Nairobi slum community of Mukuru.

Scientists are working to develop microbicides which reduce the spread of HIV, and several types which could be used by women are in development. None have been found yet which have been proven effective in reducing the transmission of HIV/AIDS, but it is believed that an effective one will be developed in the future before a vaccine becomes available, Smith said.

An intravaginal ring, similar to the NuvaRing used currently for birth control in developed countries, could be used to release the microbicide, allowing women to potentially use the device without their partner becoming aware of it.

In the qualitative study published in the Journal of Women’s Health, some women reported that they were comfortable with the idea of using the ring without letting their partner know, however, some of the male clients insisted on knowing that it was being used — and that if they became aware of the device, they would not pay or would pay less.

Overall, though, those participating in the focus group research, sponsored by the CDC Foundation, were open to the use of the ring.

“This should be your secret,” one woman responded. “You don’t need to tell him. You would be protecting yourself from those who want to infect you.”

Smith and Hoang are also working on a six-month cohort study to track rates of STD infection among sex workers, which will help give future microbicide and vaccine researchers more knowledge about high-risk populations.

Provided by Georgia State University

Explore further: Law professor says laws fall short protecting domestic service workers

Related Stories

PCs out as Senegal opens world's first tablet cafe

June 9, 2013

Among the washer women, carpenters, busy waiters and squabbling children sweltering under the midday sun on this dusty Dakar street an Internet revolution is taking place in the world's first tablet cafe.

Madison, Wis., becoming a force in video game industry

December 24, 2014

In the 20-plus years that Tim Gerritsen has been creating video games, working in the realm of imaginary battlefields and mythical kingdoms, the Wisconsin native has found himself in many of the real world's most innovative ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.