“We Have Our Protector”: Misperceptions of Protection Against HIV Among Participants in a Microbicide Efficacy Trial

Joanne E. Mantell, Neetha S. Morar, Gita Ramjee | American Journal of Public Health | June 2006 | Source: NCBI-PubMed




We examined perceptions of the effectiveness and acceptability of a candidate microbicide among 94 South African female sex workers who had participated in a phase 3 microbicide trial for HIV prevention.


Sixteen focus groups were conducted in 2001, 12 to 15 months after participants were informed that the candidate microbicide had been determined to be ineffective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


Participants clearly indicated that they understood the experimental nature of the candidate microbicide, and they recognized that they had been informed after the trial that the product was ineffective. Nevertheless, most continued to believe that the candidate microbicide helped prevent HIV and other STIs, alleviated reproductive tract pain and STI symptoms, and helped to clean the vagina.


These findings underscore the importance of understanding women’s perceptions of the efficacy of candidate microbicides and the rationale for these beliefs. These issues need to be addressed in counseling throughout microbicide trials for HIV prevention. These results also demonstrate how desperate many women at high risk of HIV infection may be for new HIV prevention technologies.

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