Birth Control Doubles Risk Of HIV In African Women
October 4, 2011

Birth Control Doubles Risk Of HIV In African Women

According to a new study, women who use hormonal birth control are twice as likely to become infected with HIV or AIDS.

The University of Washington-led study used about 3,800 couples in Africa.  The researchers also found that those who use birth control pills or a shot like Depo-Provera double the risk of transmitting the virus if they are infected.

Lead study author Renee Heffron, an epidemiology doctoral student working with the International Clinical Research Center at the University of Washington, said the research emphasizes the need for couples to use condoms in addition to other forms of contraception in order to prevent pregnancy and HIV.

"Women should be counseled about potentially increased risk of HIV acquisition and transmission with hormonal contraception, particularly injectable methods, and about the importance of dual protection with condoms to decrease HIV risk," Heffron said in a press release.

Over 140 million women around the world use hormonal contraception, including daily oral pills and long-lasting injectables.

"The benefits of effective hormonal contraception are unequivocal and must be balanced with the risk for HIV infection," Jared Baeten, an associate professor of global health with the International Clinical Research Center, said in a press release.

The researchers said the study was designed to establish whether hormonal contraception increases the risk of women acquiring HIV and transmitting the virus to their male partners. 

The work was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the UW STD/AIDS Research Training Grant Program, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The study was published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.


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