Gorbach, P.M., Kelly, C.W., Borgerding, J.A., et al. AIDS and Behavior (October 2013), E-publication ahead of print.
The authors examined the effect of sexual partnership changes on women’s adherence to microbicide gel use in the HIV Prevention Trial Network (HPTN) 035 trial. Self-reported adherence among women with ongoing partners (n=1,571) and among women with new partners (n=123) was compared. The findings showed that having a new partner affected self-reported adherence to a microbicide gel—those who indicated having a new partner reported using a microbicide gel less frequently than women reporting having an ongoing partner. Reported gel use at last vaginal sex was 100 percent among women with ongoing partners compared to 75 percent for women with new partners. Factors associated with self-reported high adherence included having an ongoing partner, older age, and higher rates of reported sex in the past week. Further, more women with new partners acquired HIV compared to those with an ongoing partner (9.8 versus 4.5 percent). The findings emphasize the importance of evaluating partnership status among women in similar trials. However, the authors suggested that future studies refine methods for measuring partner status to further understand its effects. They advocated for male-focused outreach to promote awareness of new HIV prevention methods, along with high-quality counseling for women to encourage them to introduce these methods to new partners.