Popular Contraceptive May Spread HIV, Controversial Method For HIV Prevention Found

Contraceptives that may increase the chances of contracting HIV

In the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, doctors have tried to use contraception and education to help fight the spread of the disease.  However, one of the most popular forms of contraception, injectable contraceptive,  maybe causing women in eastern and southern Africa to be twice as likely to contract HIV and spread it to partners, according to a study published in The Lancet, Oct. 4th.

Woman in the study that used the hormonal contraceptive became infected at a rate of 6.61 per 100 person-years, compared with 3.78 who were using other forms of contraceptives. Men whose partners were using the hormonal contraception became infected at a rate of 2.61 per 100 person-years compared with 1.51 for those who did not.

The branded version, Depo-Provera, created by Pfizer, is one of the top birth controls prescribed in the United States, but the company did not comment on the findings because they hadn’t read the study yet.

In the District the HIV rates are still at epidemic proportions according to the D.C. Department of Health affecting 3.2 percent of people in the area. Tinselyn Simms-Hall is the policy and advocacy coordinator at The Women’s Collective, a nonprofit organization which works with women, girls and their families living with or at-risk for HIV/AIDS.  She said that their glad that the study has been done so that more research can be done in the future.

“We need to determine if this is a method we will advise to woman to use, especially to woman of color,” Simms-Hall said.  “We want to make sure we aren’t giving them a greater risk than they already have.”

The New York Times reported that Dr. Ludo Lavreys, an epidemiologist who led one of the first studies to link injectable contraceptives to increased H.I.V. risk, said intrauterine devices, implants and other methods should be explored and expanded. “Before you stop” recommending injectables, he said, “you have to offer them something else.”

Controversial HIV prevention

In recent years there have been several breakthroughs in the fight against the spread of HIV. A leukemia patient that was cured through a bone marrow transplant, Tenofvir, which lowered the risk of transmission in African Women, and Truvada, a pill that protected healthy gay men from the virus.

Currently, the National Institute of Health is recruiting up to 500 HIV-negative gay, especially those with a greater risk of infection such as African-Americans, young and gay men for a prevention study called, called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.  The men will be taking the medication and will have their sexual behavior, health status and completion of their regime.

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