Objective: To compare the seroincidence of HIV infection among female sex workers in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire before and during an intervention study to control sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and to study the effect of two STD diagnosis and treatment strategies on the prevalence of STD and on the seroincidence of HIV infection.
Method: A screening facility for STD and HIV had been available since October 1992 for female sex workers. From June 1994, women who were HIV seronegative or HIV-2 positive during the screening could enroll in the intervention study in which participants reported once a month to a confidential clinic where they received health education, condoms and STD treatment if indicated. Women in the study were randomized either to a basic STD diagnosis and treatment strategy, which included a gynecologic examination when symptomatic, or to an intensive strategy that included a gynecologic examination regardless of symptoms. An outcome assessment every 6 months included a gynecologic examination, HIV serology and laboratory tests for STD.
Results: Of 542 women enrolled in the study, 225 (42%) had at least one outcome assessment. The HIV-1 seroincidence rate during the intervention study was significantly lower than before the study (6.5 versus 16.3 per 100 person-years; P = 0.02). During the study, the HIV-1 seroincidence rate was slightly lower in the intensive than in the basic strategy (5.3 versus 7.6 per 100 person-years; P = 0.5).
Conclusion: National AIDS control programs should consider adopting as policy the type of integrated approach used in this intervention study for HIV prevention in female sex workers.