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Will women use microbicides to protect themselves against HIV?
Date:4/19/2012

Half of the estimated 34 million adults worldwide living with HIV and AIDS are women. Women are twice as likely as men to acquire HIV from unprotected sex, but they remain dependent on male cooperation to protect themselves from infection. Microbicides represent an HIV prevention method that women can control, which could be critical in cultures where women may have less power to say "no" to sex, have difficulties negotiating condom use with their partners, and are more likely to be subjected to non-consensual sex. This need is especially urgent in Africa, where AIDS is the leading cause of death and women are disproportionally affected by the disease.

As part of Project LINK, 204 participants experienced four gels, rated how each felt and indicated which formulation they would prefer. Researchers found that preferences varied among the participants, and users' experiences seemed to impact the product they chose, with different women choosing different products. For example, while some women preferred a thicker consistency, others preferred gels that were more lubricating.

They found women do indeed have very specific experiences when using vaginal gels and they can discriminate between different gels based on properties such as texture or consistency. These experiences also impacted women's preferred product choice. Researchers were then able to use this information to develop tools to show the range of different sensations and experiences reported by women when they use vaginal gels.

Morrow said these user sensory perception and experience measures could help predict which properties play a role in the decision to use a product. That information could then be harnessed to design better microbicides that people will use consistently, she added.

"There is no other research group that I know of that is taking this approach to both understand the user experience and use that understanding to develop very specific biomedical HI
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Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
401-793-7484
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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