Background Effective HIV prevention requires efficient delivery of safe and efficacious drugs and optimization of user adherence. The user’s experiences with the drug, delivery system, and use parameters are critical to product acceptability and adherence. Prevention product developers have the opportunity to directly control a drug delivery system and its impact on acceptability and adherence, as well as product efficacy. Involvement of potential users during preclinical design and development can facilitate this process. We embedded a mixed methods user evaluation study into a safety and pharmacokinetics (PK) trial of a pod-intravaginal ring delivering antiretroviral agents. Methodology Women enrolled in two cohorts, ultimately evaluating the safety/PK of a pod-IVRs delivering TDF-alone, TDF-FTC, and/or TDF-FTC-MVC. A 7-day use period was targeted for each pod-IVR, regardless of drug or drug combination. During the clinical study, participants provided both quantitative (i.e., survey) and qualitative (i.e., in-depth interview) data capturing acceptability, perceptibility, and adherence behaviors. Initial sexual and reproductive health history surveys, daily diaries, a final acceptability and willingness to use survey, and a qualitative in-depth interview comprised the user evaluation data for each pod-IVR experienced by the participants. Findings Overall, the majority of participants (N = 10) reported being willing to use the pod-IVR platform for HIV prevention should it advance to market. Confidence to use the pod-IVR (e.g.,insertion, removal) was high. There were no differences noted in the user experience of the pod-IVR platform; that is, whether the ring delivered TDF-alone, TDF-FTC, or TDF-FTC-MVC, users’ experiences of the ring were similar and acceptable. Participants did report specific experiences, both sensory and behavioral, that impacted their use behaviors with respect to the ring, and which could ultimately impact acceptability and adherence. These experiences, and user evaluat ions elicited by them, could both challenge use or be used to leverage use in future trials and product rollout once fully articulated. Conclusions High willingness-to-use data and lack of salient differences in user experiences related to use of the pod-IVR platform (regardless of agents delivered) suggests that the pod-IVR is a feasible and acceptable drug delivery device in and of itself. This finding holds promise both for an anti-HIV pod-IVR and, potentially, a multipurpose prevention pod-IVR that could deliver both prevention for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV and contraception. Given the very early clinical trial context, further acceptability, perceptibility, and adherence data should continue to be explored, in the context of longer use periods (e.g., 28-day ring use), and in the contexts of sexual activity and menses. Using early design and development contexts to gain insights into potential challenges and facilitators of drug delivery systems such as the pod-IVR could save valuable resources and time as a potential biomedical technology moves through the clinical trial pipeline and into real-world use.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)