Hormonal Contraception May Increase HIV Risks

Hormonal Contraception May Increase HIV Risks

Hormonal Contraception May Increase HIV Risks

A new study published this week in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases tracking 3, 790 heterosexual couples in seven different African countries showed that women using hormonal birth control methods were twice as likely to contract HIV as counterparts using non-hormonal contraception. Women taking hormonal contraception were also twice as likely to transmit HIV to their partners who were not on hormonal birth control.

Renee Heffron of the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues said they'd ruled out the most obvious reason, reduced use of condoms. The authors factored in rates of condom use, which didn't significantly differ between couples who used hormonal contraceptives and couples who didn't.

Instead, they suggest there could be a biological reason for the difference. Larger amounts of genetic material from HIV were present in samples of cervical tissue from the women using hormonal contraceptives than those who weren't. While not conclusive this suggests something about hormone use might alter the tissue of the vagina in a way that makes HIV transmission more likely.

Researchers urge that this is not the final word on this issue however. The study was not originally designed to calculate these variables. Further studies need to be done to follow up on these trends and determine if these statistics are the results of genetic effects of hormones or something about the lifestyle choices of couples who use hormonal birth control. Researchers also urge that this study should not be used as an argument to end the use of birth control in these areas.

"A separate analysis by the same study team suggests that pregnancy itself might increase the rate of HIV transmission," write Drs. Charles S. Morrison and Kavita Nanda of the global development organization FHI 360, based in Durham, N.C., in the accompanying commentary. "Limiting one of the most highly used effective methods of contraception in sub-Saharan Africa would probably contribute to increased maternal mortality and morbidity and more low birth weight babies and orphans -- an equally tragic result."

Commentators from the Council of Foreign relations stressed the urgency of following up on this information as quickly as possible.

"If one of the primary forms of contraception today proves to spread HIV, then finding alternatives becomes imperative. I hope the scientific community treats this issue with the urgency it deserves," commented Isobel Colman, Senior Fellow and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative; Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program.

Iklan Atas Artikel

Iklan Tengah Artikel 1

Iklan Tengah Artikel 2

Iklan Bawah Artikel