Objective: To assess the acceptability of the female condom among 2 groups of women in Côte d'Ivoire.
Design: Trial of use.
Setting: Abidjan, non-medical structures.
Participants: 114 women accepted initial interview: 52 commercial sex workers (CSWs), 62 young women. 103 women volunteered for the trial of use.
Interventions: 20 female condoms given to the CSWs, 10 given to the young women; adapted instructions for use, counselling on AIDS, STDs and genital anatomy provided before and all along the trial.
Main outcome measures: Qualitative assessment with some quantitative measures.
Results: The female condom aroused a general interest from all participants. 90% accepted to use it; 75% of 103 volunteers completed the trial. Approximately 1,200 utilizations were recorded. Prevalence of misuses was low (approx. 2% of the total); prevalence of discomforts was much higher. All the users except two wanted to use it in the future.
Conclusion: Safe protection and dual protection (against HIV/STDs, pregnancies) were the two main sources of interest; CSWs quickly appropriated this new tool. Considering these data, the HIV infection rate among young women in Côte d'Ivoire, and evidence of changing attitudes towards birth spacing, a low-price distribution programme of female condoms for all women is recommended, with an educational component and the community participation.