Tuesday, October 11, 2011

News Brief: Contraceptive Used in Africa May Double Risk of H.I.V.

Parsa Shahbodaghi

The use of a popular hormonal contraceptive was found to have increased the rate of HIV infection in African populations. According to a recent study by the Lancet, the intravenous use of a hormone over a three month period was found to double the risk of women contracting HIV. Similarly, when HIV positive women used this method their male partners were twice as likely to contract the virus.

Though there is uncertainty with any scientific endeavor, this study looked at 3800 heterosexual couples where one member was already infected with the disease. Researchers were therefore able to monitor viral transmission and provide evidence for a causal link between contraceptive use and infection.

The implications of this work are enormous. Injectable contraceptives are popular in Africa, because a woman is able to control the timing of birth without having to travel or see a doctor. The contraceptives have also helped hundreds of thousands of women avoid the infections, injuries, and death associated with childbirth. On the other hand, increasing HIV incidence is an enormous price to pay. The WHO will be re-evaluating to see whether the costs of using this method of conception outweigh the benefits.

Reference: Belluck, Pam. "Contraceptive Used in Africa May Double Risk of H.I.V." The New York Times. Web. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/health/04hiv.html?_r=1. Oct 3 2011.

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