A prospective study assessing the effects of introducing the female condom in a sex worker population in Mombasa, Kenya

Sarah C. Thomsen, W. Ombidi, C. Toroitich-Ruto, E. L. Wong, H. O. Tucker, R. Homan, N. Kingola, S. Luchters

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Objective: To assess the impact and costs of adding female condoms to a male condom promotion and distribution peer education programme for sex workers in Mombasa, Kenya. Design: A 12 month, prospective study of 210 female sex workers. Methods: We interviewed participants about their sexual behaviour every 2 months for a total of seven times and introduced female condoms after the third interview. We also collected cost data and calculated the cost and cost effectiveness of adding the female condom component to the existing programme. Results: Introduction of the female condom in an HIV/AIDS prevention project targeting sex workers led to small, but significant, increases in consistent condom use with all sexual partners. However, there was a high degree of substitution of the female condom for male condoms. The cost per additional consistent condom user at a programme level is estimated to be $2160 (£1169, €1711) (95% CI: 1338 to 11 179). Conclusions: The female condom has some potential for reducing unprotected sex among sex workers. However, given its high cost, and the marginal improvements seen here, governments should limit promotion of the female condom in populations that are already successfully using the male condom. More research is needed to identify effective methods of encouraging sex workers to practise safer sex with their boyfriends.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-402
Number of pages6
JournalSexually Transmitted Infections
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes

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