An applicator designed for rectal delivery of microbicides was tested for acceptability by 95 young men who have sex with men, who self-administered 4 mL of placebo gel prior to receptive anal intercourse over 90 days. Subsequently, 24 of the participants self-administered rectally 4 mL of tenofovir or placebo gel over 7 days using a vaginal applicator, and compared both applicators on a Likert scale of 1-10, with 10 the highest rating. Participants reported high likelihood to use either applicator in the future (mean scores 9.3 and 8.8 respectively, p = ns). Those who tested both liked the vaginal applicator significantly more than the rectal applicator (7.8 vs. 5.2, p = 0.003). Improvements in portability, conspicuousness, aesthetics, tip comfort, product assembly and packaging were suggested for both. This rectal-specific applicator was not superior to a vaginal applicator. While likelihood of future use is reportedly high, factors that decrease acceptability may erode product use over time in clinical trials. Further attention is needed to develop user-friendly, quick-acting rectal microbicide delivery systems.
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