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Vaginal microbicide preferences among Midwestern urban adolescent women.

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Abstract

Purpose The purpose of this study was to assess adolescent women's preferences for specific microbicide characteristics including pregnancy prevention, timing of application, potential for side effects, and whether it targeted human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or other sexually transmitted infections (STI). Potential differences in microbicide preferences by adolescent age group and behavioral patterns including engaging in sexual intercourse and use of hormonal contraception were examined, as it was hypothesized that as adolescents progress into adulthood and gain sexual experience their preferences in microbicide characteristics may shift. Method Adolescent and young women (N = 405, 56.0% African American; 24.0% Euro-American) between the ages of 14 and 20 (mean = 17.0, SD = 1.8) were recruited from urban community-based clinics. Video-Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interviews were conducted with the young women, during which they were asked about their preferences regarding the characteristics of hypothetical vaginal microbicides. Conjoint analysis was utilized to determine adolescent women's relative preferences for each microbicide characteristic and intent-to-purchase microbicides based upon a combination of the selected properties. Results Overall, the results suggest adolescent and young women had an ordered preference for a microbicide with (1) no side effects, (2) pregnancy prevention, (3) postcoital application, and (4) protection against HIV. Age and behavioral group conjoint analyses resulted in the same pattern of preferences as those reported for the entire group. However, women having sex and not using hormonal contraception had a stronger preference for postcoital application. Conclusion The findings suggest that young women's ratings of microbicides were sensitive to characteristics such as side effects, pregnancy prevention, and timing of application and should be considered in microbicide development. The conjoint analysis approach is useful in understanding microbicide preferences, and should be utilized with other populations to assess preferences for specific microbicide characteristics.

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