Communicating about Microbicides with Women in Mind
Should ongoing clinical trials identify an effective microbicide, the next challenge will be to ensure product access and use. Communication campaigns will play a critical role in generating demand and encouraging correct use.
Under the Preventive Technologies Agreement (PTA), funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), FHI 360 implemented the Communicating about Microbicides with Women in Mind project in Kenya. The goal was to explore how a communication campaign might market a microbicide gel that women at risk of acquiring HIV could use in a variety of contexts — from intimate relationships to commercial sex work — while also avoiding the association with infidelity that has often stigmatized condom use.
The project was conducted in three phases: (1) landscape analysis, (2) materials development and pretesting and (3) materials assessment. A fact sheet describes each phase. The Communicating about Microbicides with Women in Mind project culminated in the publication and dissemination of a communication strategy and adaptation guide that will help programs design their own microbicide communication campaigns or adapt the prototype materials developed by the project for use in other contexts. The final materials, study results and Microbicide Communication Strategy and Adaptation Guide were presented to representatives of government, civil society, research and implementing partner organizations at a PTA-sponsored meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, on June 24, 2014.
- Achieved substantial community and stakeholder engagement, including collaboration with an in-country project advisory committee — consisting of Kenyan policymakers, program implementers and civil society advocates — and extensive consultation with members of the potential audiences of a microbicide communication campaign
- Tested and refined a package of prototype materials for raising awareness about microbicides, generating interest in their use and helping health care providers counsel women about them
- Developed messages and materials that generated strong interest in microbicide use among all target audiences in a research study assessing their impact
- Obtained data on the impact of message framing that will be useful to programs in Kenya and other countries as they plan for microbicide introduction
- Developed an adaptation guide describing the materials development and assessment process and how the prototype materials from Kenya can be adapted for use in other contexts
- Communication Strategy and Adaptation Guide (and accompanying Annex)
The Communicating about Microbicides with Women in Mind project worked with Artful Eyes Productions, a local Kenyan creative agency, to develop a suite of evidence-based, prototype communication materials to support the introduction of vaginal microbicide gel in Kenya. Should microbicides be proven effective, these materials will help policy makers and program implementers ensure that all women at risk of HIV, regardless of their relationship status, will be able to access and properly use microbicides. These materials were specifically designed for vaginal gel use in Kenya; they will need to be adapted for use in other countries or for other HIV prevention products. They will also need to be updated to reflect any new clinical information or new usage guidelines that are developed once a vaginal gel is licensed for use.