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Cult Health Sex. 2010 Nov;12(8):929-42. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2010.507876.

Intravaginal insertion in KwaZulu-Natal: sexual practices and preferences in the context of microbicide gel use.

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Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


Intravaginal insertion is often associated with the concept of 'dry' sex. All HIV-prevention microbicides tested to date have been vaginally applied lubricant-based gels. In this paper, we examine whether the use of intravaginal insertions could be in conflict with the introduction of vaginal microbicide gels. The Africa Centre site was part of the Microbicides Development Programme evaluating PRO2000/5 microbicide gel. We conducted in-depth-interviews and focus-group discussions with women enrolled in the trial as well as women and men from the community. The analysis focused on people's knowledge of intravaginal insertion in the community and trial participants' experience of using trial gels. Intravaginal use of a variety of products was widely acknowledged. We found that the experience of using trial gels - which made sex 'hot', 'tight' and 'dry' - matched the desired outcomes of intravaginal insertion. We found that vaginal 'dryness' described the removal of excessive amounts of unusual discharge, rather than the removal of normal vaginal secretions and that intravaginal insertion is not exclusively associated with a desire for 'dry' sex. Study findings provide evidence that vaginal microbicide gels may be more acceptable in communities where intravaginal insertion is practiced than was previously thought.

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