Back to Journals » International Journal of Women's Health » Volume 9

Addressing intravaginal practices in women with HIV and at-risk for HIV infection, a mixed methods pilot study

Authors Alcaide ML, Rodriguez VJ, Fischl MA, Jones DL, Weiss SM

Received 27 October 2016

Accepted for publication 18 January 2017

Published 28 February 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 123—132


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Elie Al-Chaer

Maria L Alcaide,1 Violeta J Rodriguez,2 Margaret A Fischl,1 Deborah L Jones,2 Stephen M Weiss2

1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, 2Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA

Abstract: Intravaginal practices (IVPs), include intravaginal cleansing (cleansing the inside of the vagina) or intravaginal insertion of products for hygiene, health or sexuality reasons. IVPs are associated with adverse female health outcomes, development of bacterial vaginosis, HIV acquisition and transmission. A mixed methods approach was used in this study to examine the prevalence of IVP, assess reasons for engagement, and perceptions of IVP among a sample of minority (African-American and Hispanic) women infected, or at-risk, for HIV in Miami, USA, a city with increasing numbers of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. Three focus groups (total n=20) and quantitative assessments (n=72) were conducted with women infected or uninfected with HIV. In the qualitative assessments, most women reported engaging in both intravaginal cleansing and intravaginal insertion, and stated the main motivation for IVP was hygiene. The quantitative assessments confirmed that cleansing with water alone, soap with water or using commercial douches was common, as well as intravaginal insertion using a cloth or a rag in both HIV-infected and uninfected women. Women with HIV infection reported less use of water and water and soap for IVPs, and reported learning about the potential harm of IVP from their HIV health care providers. Despite their health risks, IVP appeared common in both HIV-infected and at-risk minority women, and interventions to decrease IVP could have important health implications among populations with high rates of IVP, STIs and HIV.

Keywords: focus groups, HIV, vaginal practices, women, mixed methods

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]