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Feasibility and potential acceptability of three cervical barriers among vulnerable young women in Zimbabwe
  1. Ariane van der Straten, PhD, MPH, Senior Research Scientist1,
  2. Nuriye Sahin-Hodoglugil, MD, DrPH, Associate Medical Director2,
  3. Kate Clouse, MPH, PhD Graduate Student3,
  4. Sibongile Mtetwa, BA, Project Co-ordinator4 and
  5. Mike Z Chirenje, MD, FCROG, Associate Professor and Executive Director4
  1. Women's Global Health Imperative, RTI International, San Francisco, and Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA
  2. Venture Strategies for Health and Development, Berkeley, CA, USA
  3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
  4. University of Zimbabwe–University of California San Francisco Collaborative Research Programme in Women's Health, Harare, Zimbabwe
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ariane van der Straten, Senior Research Scientist, 114 Sansome Street, Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94104, USA. E-mail: ariane{at}


Background We explored the potential acceptability of three cervical barriers (CB) (Ortho All-Flex® diaphragm, SILCS® diaphragm, FemCapTM cervical cap) among sexually experienced Zimbabwean young women.

Methods Forty-five young women (aged 16–21 years) received an individual CB educational session. Participants were then randomly assigned to one of the three CBs in a 1:1:1 ratio, and practised insertion and removal of their device at the clinic. Next, participants were interviewed on their practice experiences, and their post-practice attitudes towards CB.

Results All 45 young women were willing and able to insert their assigned device. The majority reported “easy” insertion and removal and 93% “liked” the device they tried. All showed interest in participating in future CB studies: when asked which device they would like to try in the future, over half (58%) chose SILCS, regardless of the device they had tried. The majority felt comfortable touching their genitals to insert/remove the CB and most participants favoured methods' attributes associated with female-control and non-interference with sex. Over half the participants said they would prefer to use a CB continuously compared to episodic use. Two-thirds of them expressed interest in CB for dual protection.

Conclusion The concept of CB, and initial insertion experience, were well accepted in this selected, small group of Zimbabwean young women. Evaluating CB in larger studies seems feasible in this population.

  • acceptability
  • cervical barrier method
  • contraception
  • HIV prevention
  • young women

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