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

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5 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-132
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Women's Health
StatePublished - Feb 28 2017


  • Focus groups
  • HIV
  • Mixed methods
  • Vaginal practices
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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