A bio-behavioral intervention to decrease intravaginal practices and bacterial vaginosis among HIV infected Zambian women, a randomized pilot study

Maria L. Alcaide, Maureen Chisembele, Emeria Malupande, Violeta J. Rodriguez, Margaret A. Fischl, Kristopher Arheart, Deborah L. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Intravaginal practices (IVP) (cleansing or introducing products inside the vagina for hygiene, health or to please sexual partners) are common among women with HIV. IVP increase the risk of developing bacterial Vaginosis (BV), the most common genital infection associated with transmission of sexually transmitted infections and HIV. This study tested a pilot intervention to reduce IVP and BV in HIV infected women in Zambia. Methods: One hundred twenty-eight HIV infected women engaging in IVP were randomized to two conditions: enhanced standard of care (n = 70) and experimental (n = 58) from May 1, 2013 to February 28, 2014. All participants received a brief educational counseling session on discontinuation of IVP, and those with BV, were provided with medical treatment for BV. Women in the experimental condition received an additional group-based, culturally tailored intervention. Participants completed questionnaires assessing sexual risk factors and IVP and were assessed for BV using Nugent criteria at baseline, 6 months and 12 months. Results: At 12-month, the proportion of self-reported use of IVPs decreased in the experimental condition: soap (28% vs. 47%); cloth or a rag (19% vs. 38%); and traditional medicines (22% vs. 42%) (all ρ < 0.05)) compared with the enhanced standard of care condition. The prevalence of BV at 6 and 12 months did not differ by study condition but averaging over study condition, prevalence of BV decreased from 64.2% at baseline to 15.6% at 6 months (p < 0.01) and to 23.6% at 12 months (ρ = 0.15). Using an enhanced standard of care approach and an enhanced standard of care + a group intervention, IVP and BV decreased over time, but the experimental condition had greater reduction in self-reported use of IVP. Conclusions: Future studies should address interventions in communities with high burden of IVP, BV and HIV. Interventions that could be administered during routine medical care and decrease IVP and BV are needed, and should be considered part of women's health programs. Trial registration number: NCT03134924 (retrospectively registered 21st April 2017).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number338
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 12 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • HIV shedding
  • Intravaginal practices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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