Globally, HIV affects women disproportionally to men, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. While the monthly dapivirine vaginal ring (VR) is a promising female-initiated HIV prevention method, it is important to understand how well the ring is liked. With former participants of HOPE, an open-label extension trial of the ring, we used emoji stickers and a worksheet to explore female end-user's acceptability of and opinions about the VR. We aimed to understand these participants' opinions about the VR, and how they had changed over time, particularly in the context of known efficacy of the dapivirine VR. Most participants easily understood the exercise and how to use the emoji stickers, with a few exceptions. For those who had trouble understanding how to use the emoji, interviewer support and encouragement helped them to understand and continue with the exercise. Emoji interpretation varied widely with participants using the same emoji to express divergent opinions. Using the emoji stickers, participants expressed mostly positive opinions of the vaginal ring for HIV prevention, with some lingering concerns about the product's partial effectiveness. This paper contributes to the literature supporting the assertion that the dapivirine VR for HIV prevention is acceptable to women, and that acceptability increases with time and proper education. This analysis also provides evidence that emoji visual tools can enhance understanding of acceptability of an intervention when used in qualitative research.
Using emoji stickers to understand end-user opinions of the Dapivirine Vaginal Ring for HIV prevention
Katz, A. W. K., Mansoor, L. E., Tsidya, M., Mathebula, F., Singh, D., Siva, S., Akello, C., Chitowa, T. H., Garcia, M., Soto-Torres, L., & Montgomery, E. T. (2021). Using emoji stickers to understand end-user opinions of the Dapivirine Vaginal Ring for HIV prevention. AIDS and Behavior. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-021-03338-1