Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 143–155 | Cite as

Adding the Female Condom to HIV Prevention Interventions for Women with Severe Mental Illness: A Pilot Test

  • Pamela Y. Collins
  • Hella von Unger
  • Susan Putnins
  • Natalie Crawford
  • Ragini Dutt
  • Marcela Hoffer
Original paper


We evaluated the efficacy of a gender-specific intervention to reduce sexual risk behaviors by introducing female-initiated methods to urban women with severe mental illness. Seventy-nine women received 10 sessions of an HIV prevention intervention or a control intervention. The primary outcome was unprotected oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse, expressed using the Vaginal Episode Equivalent (VEE) score. Knowledge and use of the female condom were also assessed. Women in the HIV prevention intervention showed a three-fold reduction in the VEE score at the 3-month follow-up compared to the control group, but the difference was not significant. These women were significantly more likely to know about female condoms, have inserted one and used it with a sexual partner at the 3-month follow-up and to have inserted it at 6 months compared to controls. The female condom may be a useful addition, for a subset of women with SMI, to comprehensive HIV prevention programs.


Severe mental illness HIV prevention Women Female condoms Pilot test 



This study was supported by NIMH K01 MH01691 (PI Pamela Y. Collins) and a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, and the research was conducted while Dr. Collins was based at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the NIMH or the Federal Government. We are grateful to investigators from the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies (PI Anke Ehrhardt) (New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University) for their helpful comments. The authors wish to thank Dr. Patricia Zybert, Dr. Bruce Levin, Dr. Emilia Bagiella, Ms. Helena Chang, Ms. Sarah Joestl and members of the HIV Center Statistics, Epidemiology, and Data Management Core for their data analytic contributions. We are grateful to Dr. Stephanie LeMelle and Dr. Henry McCurtis for their contributions to intervention development, administration, and site procurement.


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Copyright information

© US Government 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pamela Y. Collins
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hella von Unger
    • 3
  • Susan Putnins
    • 4
  • Natalie Crawford
    • 1
  • Ragini Dutt
    • 5
  • Marcela Hoffer
    • 1
  1. 1.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.National Institute of Mental HealthBethesdaUSA
  3. 3.Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), Research Group Public HealthBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Mc Lean HospitalBelmontUSA
  5. 5.UNICEF HeadquartersNew YorkUSA

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