Expert Notes ‘Alarming Data’ Connecting Hormonal Contraception and HIV Transmission

HIV/AIDS expert Dr. Timothy Flanigan shared that new research raises serious concerns about whether hormonal contraception — Depo-Provera and oral contraception pills (OCT) — actually doubles the risk of a woman acquiring HIV if she is exposed. And if an HIV positive woman is on oral contraception, it may double the risk that she can transmit it to her partner.

It was a very large study that involved seven African countries. The researchers looked at couples with one HIV-positive spouse and one HIV-negative spouse. What they found was very concerning: The hormonal contraception widely touted and promoted doubles the risk of acquisition and transmission of HIV. The results are alarming and have significant implications for programs that actively promote the use of hormonal contraception.

There is great concern, because hormonal contraception has been seen as the solution for reproductive-health challenges. This alarming data must lead to a reconsideration of the whole reproductive-health agenda, which has relied on the promotion of hormonal contraception.

The Gates Foundation has been extraordinarily generous, but the idea that the promotion of oral contraception is the No. 1 answer to maternal health needs is misplaced.
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