Sexuality, HIV Risk and Potential Acceptability of Involving Adolescent Girls in Microbicide Research in Kisumu, Kenya
January 30, 2009
Females under age 18 have high rates of HIV acquisition and thus represent an important population for the clinical research of microbicides. Microbicide trials, however, primarily enroll adult participants. In the current study, the authors "sought to understand the individual, family, and community-level factors that may influence the acceptability of microbicide use and research involving adolescent girls."
In Kisumu, Kenya, the researchers conducted 30 interviews with girls ages 14-17, as well as nine focus groups with adolescent girls, their parents, and community leaders. Discussion topics included adolescent sexuality, HIV prevention methods, perceptions about the use of microbicides, and views about microbicide research involving adolescent girls.
The results found that while adolescent sexuality is stigmatized, it is also "acknowledged to be a natural part of the adolescent stage.' Desperation to stop the spread of HIV among youth and support for female-initiated HIV prevention methods led to enthusiasm about microbicides and future microbicide research."
However, participants raised numerous concerns about microbicides, including: the difficulty of using such a product in a timely fashion "due to the rushed, unplanned nature of adolescent sex"; the fear of experimental products; concerns about product efficacy; and parents' worries "that supporting microbicide use in youth would defy societal pressures that denounce adolescent sexual activity."
"Microbicide acceptability for youth in sub-Saharan Africa may be bolstered by desperation for new methods to stop the spread of HIV, yet hindered by misgivings about experimental HIV prevention methods for youth," the authors concluded. "Understanding and addressing the microbicide's perceived benefits and shortcomings, as well as the broader context of adolescent sexuality and HIV prevention, may facilitate future research and promotion of microbicides in this high-risk group."
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.