Female and male partner perspectives on placebo Multipurpose Prevention Technologies (MPTs) used by women in the TRIO study in South Africa and Kenya

Background

Male partner awareness and acceptance of microbicide and family planning product use has been shown to increase women’s own acceptance and adherence of a product. However, little is known about preferences regarding potential Multipurpose Prevention Technology (MPT) product delivery forms. As part of the TRIO study, men’s reactions to their female partner’s TRIO product use and comparisons of men’s and women’s views of TRIO product attributes and use acceptability were explored to better understand product preferences.

 

Methods

Women in TRIO used three placebo products that represented potential MPTs: daily oral tablets, monthly vaginal rings, and monthly dual injections. Male partners (N = 39) and women (N = 88) completed in-depth interviews on their own and their partner’s experiences with these products. Qualitative coding and analyses followed a conceptual model of HIV prevention product acceptability, and here, we explored themes of disclosure, trust and infidelity as they informed barriers and facilitators to product use.

 

Results

Men expressed a desire to know of their partner’s product use decisions and be informed and educated on the products to better support their partners, in some cases, expressing a high level of concern regarding maximizing the ease of product adherence for their partner. They also wanted to understand the effects of products on sexual encounters with their partner, but in some cases, wanted more knowledge in order to control their partner’s product use decisions. Similarly to women, men found long-acting, discreet products that have little to no effect on sexual encounters or libido the most acceptable for their female partners’ use. Product use was most acceptable to men if they were informed of use without inadvertent discovery.

 

Conclusions

Men’s product attribute preferences often aligned with women’s opinions of the same products. To support women’s correct use of MPTs, further research is needed to determine the best strategy for achieving male partner acceptance and support of product use, particularly for less familiar delivery forms, such as the vaginal ring.