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Acceptability and feasibility of continuous diaphragm use among sex workers in Madagascar


Objectives: The diaphragm, a woman controlled, reusable contraceptive device, might prevent some sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We assessed the acceptability and feasibility of use of silicone Wide-Seal Arcing Diaphragms (Milex Products, Chicago, IL, USA) by sex workers in Madagascar.

Methods: Over 8 weeks, we evaluated method acceptability by examining patterns of and problems with women’s diaphragm use. We also evaluated several measures of study feasibility, including recruitment and follow up methods.

Results: 91 women from three cities (Antananarivo, Tamatave, and Mahajanga) participated, and 87 (96%) completed follow up. At enrolment, participants reported a median of six sex acts with five clients in the previous week. During the follow up period, participants reported a median of three sex acts with three clients during the previous 2 days, and self reported continuous diaphragm use during the previous day increased from 87% to 93%. Seven women became pregnant (incidence 53 pregnancies per 100 woman years). Self reported use of male condoms and diaphragms was fairly constant over the study period: women reported condom use in 61% to 70% of acts and diaphragms in 95% to 97% of acts. The number of participants reporting diaphragm problems decreased from 15 (16%) at the first visit to six (7%) at the final visit. 20 women (22%) needed replacement devices during follow up because their original diaphragms were lost, were the wrong size, or became seriously damaged.

Conclusions: Given the high use and steady decrease in reported problems during the study, we believe diaphragms are acceptable and feasible in this resource poor, low education sex worker population.

  • EC, emergency contraception
  • RPR, rapid plasma reagin
  • STI, sexually transmitted infections
  • UTI, urinary tract infection
  • diaphragm
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • sex workers
  • acceptability
  • Madagascar

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