Montgomery, E. T., van der Straten, A., Stadler, J., et al. AIDS and Behavior (November 2014), E-publication ahead of print.
Male partners are believed to have significant influence over their female partner’s ability to negotiate about and use female-controlled HIV prevention methods. The authors of this study investigated how men influenced their female partner’s ability to participate in the ongoing Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic (VOICE) trial, specifically the VOICE C arm, which examined social and structural influences on women’s use of antiretroviral tablets or a vaginal gel. The authors recruited 102 randomly selected trial participants in Johannesburg, South Africa. They conducted in-depth and ethnographic interviews and focus group discussions with the female participants, and in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with 22 male partners. Data analysis showed that many male partners did not fully understand or trust the research, and as a result discouraged their female partner's use of the product or participation in the study. The study also found that because of the men's reluctance to agree with their participation in the study, women were less likely to disclose their use of the product. The authors concluded that research is needed to identify and test strategies to proactively involve male partners in order to enhance women’s involvement and commitment to these trials.