Vaginal practices and associations with barrier methods and gel use among Sub-Saharan African women enrolled in an HIV prevention trial.

Women's Global Health Imperative, RTI International, 114 Sansome Street, Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94104, USA.
AIDS and Behavior (Impact Factor: 3.49). 03/2010; 14(3):590-9. DOI: 10.1007/s10461-010-9690-3
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Vaginal practices may interfere with the use and/or the effectiveness of female-initiated prevention methods. We investigated whether vaginal practices differed by randomization group in a phase III trial of the diaphragm with lubricant gel (MIRA) in Sub-Saharan Africa (n = 4925), and if they were associated with consistent use of study methods. At baseline, vaginal practices were commonly reported: vaginal washing (82.77%), wiping (56.47%) and insertion of dry or absorbent materials (20.58%). All three practices decreased during the trial. However, women in the intervention group were significantly more likely to report washing or wiping during follow-up compared to those in the control group. Additionally, washing, wiping, and insertion, were all independently and inversely associated with consistent diaphragm and gel use and with condom use as well, regardless of study arm. A better understanding of the socio-cultural context in which these practices are embedded could improve educational strategies to address these potentially modifiable behaviors, and may benefit future HIV prevention interventions of vaginal methods.

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    ABSTRACT: Vaginal practices (VPs) may increase HIV risk by injuring vaginal epithelium or by increasing risk of bacterial vaginosis, an established risk factor for HIV. HIV-negative Zimbabwean women (n = 2,185) participating in a prospective study on hormonal contraception and HIV risk completed an ancillary questionnaire capturing detailed VP data at quarterly followup visits for two years. Most participants (84%) reported ever cleansing inside the vagina, and at 40% of visits women reported drying the vagina using cloth or paper. Vaginal tightening using cloth/cotton wool, lemon juice, traditional herbs/powders, or other products was reported at 4% of visits. Women with ≥15 unprotected sex acts monthly had higher odds of cleansing (adjusted odds ratio (aOR): 1.17, 95% CI: 1.04-1.32). Women with sexually transmitted infections had higher odds of tightening (aOR: 1.42, 95% CI: 1.08-1.86). Because certain vaginal practices were associated with other HIV risk factors, synergism between VPs and other risk factors should be explored.
    Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology 08/2010; 2010. DOI:10.1155/2010/387671
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    ABSTRACT: To investigate population-level prevalence of vaginal practices, their frequency and self-reported health consequences in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A household survey using multi-stage cluster sampling was conducted in 2007. Women aged 18-60 (n = 867) were interviewed on demographics, sexual behaviours and vaginal practices, focusing on intravaginal practices. Design-based analysis used multivariate logistic regression to identify factors associated with intravaginal or any practice. Most women currently perform vaginal practices (90.2%), with 34.8% reporting two and 16.3%≥3 practices. Internal cleansing, the commonest practice (63.3% of women), is undertaken frequently (61.6% cleansing twice daily; 20.0% using ≥2 products). Fewer report application (10.1%), insertion (11.6%) or ingestion (14.3%) practices. Hygiene is a common motivation, even for the 23.2% of women reporting intravaginal practices around the time of sex. Prevalence of any practice was lower among women with tertiary education than those without primary education (AOR = 0.26, 95% CI = 0.08-0.85), nearly twice as common in sexually active women (95% CI = 1.05-3.56) and increased as overall health status declined. Adjusted odds of intravaginal practices were 1.8-fold higher in women reporting unprotected sex (95% CI = 1.11-2.90). Few reported health problems with current practices (0.6%); though, 12.6% had ever-experienced adverse effects. Vaginal practices are common in KwaZulu-Natal. Although self-reported health problems with current practices are rare, high lifetime risk of adverse events and potential for asymptomatic but clinically important damage make continued research important.
    Tropical Medicine & International Health 11/2010; 16(2):245-56. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2010.02687.x · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Identifying modifiable factors that increase women's vulnerability to HIV is a critical step in developing effective female-initiated prevention interventions. The primary objective of this study was to pool individual participant data from prospective longitudinal studies to investigate the association between intravaginal practices and acquisition of HIV infection among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Secondary objectives were to investigate associations between intravaginal practices and disrupted vaginal flora; and between disrupted vaginal flora and HIV acquisition. We conducted a meta-analysis of individual participant data from 13 prospective cohort studies involving 14,874 women, of whom 791 acquired HIV infection during 21,218 woman years of follow-up. Data were pooled using random-effects meta-analysis. The level of between-study heterogeneity was low in all analyses (I(2) values 0.0%-16.1%). Intravaginal use of cloth or paper (pooled adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 1.47, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.18-1.83), insertion of products to dry or tighten the vagina (aHR 1.31, 95% CI 1.00-1.71), and intravaginal cleaning with soap (aHR 1.24, 95% CI 1.01-1.53) remained associated with HIV acquisition after controlling for age, marital status, and number of sex partners in the past 3 months. Intravaginal cleaning with soap was also associated with the development of intermediate vaginal flora and bacterial vaginosis in women with normal vaginal flora at baseline (pooled adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.24, 95% CI 1.04-1.47). Use of cloth or paper was not associated with the development of disrupted vaginal flora. Intermediate vaginal flora and bacterial vaginosis were each associated with HIV acquisition in multivariable models when measured at baseline (aHR 1.54 and 1.69, p<0.001) or at the visit before the estimated date of HIV infection (aHR 1.41 and 1.53, p<0.001), respectively. This study provides evidence to suggest that some intravaginal practices increase the risk of HIV acquisition but a direct causal pathway linking intravaginal cleaning with soap, disruption of vaginal flora, and HIV acquisition has not yet been demonstrated. More consistency in the definition and measurement of specific intravaginal practices is warranted so that the effects of specific intravaginal practices and products can be further elucidated. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
    PLoS Medicine 02/2011; 8(2):e1000416. DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000416 · 14.00 Impact Factor


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