Intravaginal practices among young HIV-infected women in Lusaka, Zambia

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Abstract

Intravaginal practices (IVP) are linked to bacterial vaginosis (BV), obstetric/gynecological complications, and HIV. Late adolescent and young adult (LAYA) women in Zambia have high rates of HIV. Adult and mature (AM) HIV-infected women in Zambia engage in IVP for hygiene, health, and sexuality reasons; however, to our knowledge, IVP use among LAYA women has not been examined. This study compares IVP use between LAYA and AM women to identify age-specific factors to target when developing IVP reduction interventions for LAYA women. LAYA (≤25 years; n = 24) and AM (>25 years; n=124) HIV-infected women completed self-administered demographic, HIV history, sexual risk factor, and IVP measures. LAYA and AM women were then compared. Number of sexual partners, sexual activity, or condom use did not differ between groups. Rates of IVP in the prior month with different products were similar, though LAYA women used soap more frequently (96% versus 74.2%, p = 0.034). LAYA women were more likely to use products for hygiene reasons (soap 83% versus 43%; cloth, paper, or wipes 50% versus 17%, p < 0.05); and AM women to use products to please sexual partners (cloth 20% versus 56%, p = 0.074). Interventions tailored to LAYA women may be needed to reduce IVP and subsequent BV as LAYA women may have different reasons for engaging in IVP, in comparison with AM women. Reduced IVP among LAYA women may decrease the risk for HIV transmission to sexual partners and newborns and is urgently needed in settings with high prevalence of IVP, BV, and HIV infections, such as Zambia.

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