Research suggests that the HIV/AIDS epidemic has spread to monogamous women in India.
Gender inequalities prevent women from asserting control over the circumstances that
increase their vulnerability to infection. Men control most of the sexual decision-making.
The present study explores views on use of microbicides by men and circumstances in
which they might find microbicide use with their wives acceptable. Progressive in-depth
interviews were conducted among 15 consenting men from Pune, India. Men felt that
women with identifiable HIV risk, such as being a sex worker, having an HIV infected
husbands or being educated; were more likely to use microbicides. Most high-risk men
would permit or force their wives to use microbicides and had a higher intention to
use microbicides compared with low-risk men probably due to perceived susceptibility.
The majority of men with previous experience of microbicide use mentioned that privacy
was important for gel use. Most low-risk men believed that they would be angry with
covert gel use by their wives. They felt that covert use was impossible since their
wives were under their control and they would notice the gel due to a change in their
sexual experience. Low-risk men also opined that husband's permission was not required
if he was HIV-infected or having extra-marital sex. Some men stressed the need for
exercising sexual control while women inserted gel before sex. Men's risk-perception,
knowledge about their safety concerns, as well as their behavior may affect acceptability
of gel use, hence men's involvement and cooperation is imperative for microbicide
gel use by women in India.