Men’s perceptions and perceived acceptability of their female partner’s use of self-administered intravaginal therapies for treatment of cervical precancer in Kenya

24 Jun 2024
Chemtai Mungo, Konyin Adewumi, Grace Ellis, Mercy Rop, Everlyn Adoyo, Yating Zou, Lisa Rahangdale

Background: Cervical cancer continues to be a major health issue in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Despite increasing access to screening, access to precancer treatment remains a significant challenge in LMICs, highlighting a need for innovative, accessible and resource-appropriate treatment approaches, including self-administered therapies.

Methods: A cross-sectional mixed-methods study was conducted among men aged 25–65 with a current female partner in Kisumu County, Kenya. Participants were sequentially recruited and surveyed to evaluate their understanding of human papillomavirus and cervical cancer, their views on screening and treatment and their attitudes toward self-administered therapies. Focus group discussions (FGDs) with a subset of the survey participants further explored their treatment preferences and perceptions.

Results: Two hundred fourteen men participated in the survey, and 39 men participated in FGDs. The median age was 39 years, and 51% had a primary school education or less. Most (96%) were in a committed relationship, and 74% earned $10 or less daily. There was strong support for self-administered topical therapies, with 98% willing to support their partners using such treatments if available. Additionally, most participants were open to supporting necessary abstinence or condom use, though 76% believed their partners might hesitate to request condom use. When given an option, most preferred their partner to self-administer such therapies at home compared to provider administration at a health facility, citing convenience, cost-effectiveness and privacy. Preferences varied between two potential therapies, 5-Fluorouracil and Artesunate, based on their administration frequency, duration and abstinence requirements. Qualitative findings largely supported the quantitative analysis.

Conclusion: The study demonstrates strong support for self-administered topical therapies for cervical precancer among Kenyan men. Additional research on acceptability, feasibility and efficacy in different LMICs could pave the way for these therapies to help bridge current cervical precancer treatment gaps in these settings.

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