Background: The monthly dapivirine vaginal ring provides partial protection against HIV, and a longer duration ring may reduce user burden and improve adherence. We examined acceptability and preference for 3-month versus 1-month rings for HIV-1 risk reduction in a phase 1 clinical trial.
Materials and Methods: In Microbicide Trials Network-036/International Partnership for Microbicides 047, 49 HIV-negative participants aged 18-45 were randomized to one of two 3-month rings or the 1-month ring. Acceptability ratings were collected at enrollment, week 4, and study exit (week 13). At exit, ring preference was assessed quantitatively among all participants and a randomly selected subset of 24 participants completed in-depth interviews. Quantitative and qualitative findings were integrated to explore factors influencing acceptability and preference.
Results: Acceptability of each ring was initially moderate and increased during the trial. Ratings were lower in the 3-month ring arms than the 1-month arm at each time point, including baseline. Most participants (34/47; 72%) preferred a 3-month ring at exit; however, this proportion was significantly lower within some subgroups characterized by site, education, race/ethnicity, and experiences with ring use. Qualitative interviews revealed reservations about hygiene and safety of the 3-month ring, including discomfort with use during menses, but these were usually outweighed by its increased convenience.
Conclusions: Both ring durations were highly acceptable at study exit. Although most participants preferred a 3-month ring, preference was more divided in certain subgroups, highlighting the benefit of offering different duration options. Providing additional support to address concerns about hygiene and safety may improve acceptability of a 3-month vaginal ring.