Positioning Microbicides for HIV Prevention in Kenya: A Case Study

Elizabeth Ryan*, Emily Bockh, Elizabeth E. Tolley, Allison P. Pack, Caroline Mackenzie, Alice Olawo, George Githuka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This case study describes the experience of developing communication messages and materials to position microbicide gel—a product still in clinical trials—for HIV prevention in Kenya. A robust development process included stakeholder and audience consultations, a national message development workshop, two rounds of pretesting, and an evaluation study to evaluate the impact of the materials on intentions and attitudes related to microbicide use. Awareness-raising and in-depth educational materials for both potential microbicide users and health care providers were developed. The project team tested two different ways of positioning microbicides—one focused primarily on the HIV prevention benefits of the product and the other focused on other benefits, such as increased sexual pleasure and intimacy. This experience presented a number of unique social marketing and communication challenges related to the inherent characteristics of microbicides, the fact that they are not yet licensed for use, and the potential for inadvertently stigmatizing the product and encouraging condom migration. The project confirmed that marketing microbicides to women in a wide variety of sexual contexts—and gaining support of male partners—will be critical for avoiding stigmatization of the product. It also confirmed that the positioning of the product can impact interest in using microbicides and that in-depth counseling of users will be critical for ensuring correct use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-114
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Marketing Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • HIV prevention
  • microbicides
  • research
  • social marketing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'Positioning Microbicides for HIV Prevention in Kenya: A Case Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this