From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

Microbicides Feasibility Study: Tanzania

The Department for International Development (DfID) funded a major multi-site Microbicides Development Programme. As part of the DfID Research Programme Consortium for Research and Capacity Building in Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV in Developing Countries [LINK], the SPHSU supported a feasibility study for a trial of microbicides in Mwanza, Tanzania. This study was led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with the National Institute for Medical Research, Tanzania.


The study's aims were to:

  • characterise the sexual behaviour of vulnerable women
  • determine the acceptability of vaginal gel
  • identify obstacles and facilitating factors to women's involvement.

Caroline Allen (now Caribbean Health Research Council) and Nicola Desmond investigated the reliability and validity of coital diaries (CDs), and the level of support that women need from researchers to provide reliable and valid data (N=150).  More sexual behaviour, and more socially unacceptable behaviours, were reported in CDs than in questionnaires, regardless of level of support.  Higher levels of support from researchers resulted in more consistent reports between CDs and exit interviews.  Exploration of service uptake revealed that issues of blood taking and identity influenced continued involvement in the study.  The gel is likely to be acceptable to women and their partners but is subject to locally influenced sexual practices such as lubrication.



Allen C, Desmond N, Chiduo B, Medard L, Lees S, Vallely A, Hayes R, Ross D. Intravaginal and menstrual practices among women working in food and recreational facilities in Mwanza, Tanzania: implications for microbicide trials. AIDS & Behavior 2010;14:1169-81

pubmed  open access  

Lees S, Cook C, Vallely A, Desmond N, Allen C, Kiro K, Wamoyi J, Medard L, Pool , Hayes RJ, Ross DA, Microbicides Development Programme . Comparison of sexual behavior data collected using a coital diary and a clinic-based interview during a microbicide pilot study in Mwanza, Tanzania. Sexually Transmitted Diseases 2010;37:497-501



Lees S, Desmond N, Allen C, Bugeke G, Vallely A, Hayes R, Ross D. Sexual risk behaviour for women working in recreational venues in Mwanza, Tanzania: considerations for the acceptability and use of vaginal microbicide gels. Culture, Health & Sexuality 2009;11:581-95



Allen CF, Lees SS, Desmond NA, Der G, Chiduo B, Hambleton I, Knight L, Vallely A, Ross DA, Hayes R J. Validity of coital diaries in a feasibility study for the Microbicides Development Programme trial among women at high risk of HIV/AIDS in Mwanza, Tanzania. Sexually Transmitted Infections 2007;83:490-496

pubmed  open access  

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