Gynuity Health Projects

Programs

Relationship of Hormonal Contraceptive Use to HIV Transmission

Concern about a possible association between hormonal contraceptive (HC) use and increased risk of HIV infection has been mounting in recent years. A series of laboratory, clinical and epidemiological studies have contributed to a growing body of evidence that suggests such an association may exist. As of now, however, the association remains speculative, and a causal relationship between HC use and changes in HIV risk has not been established. Given the enormity of the AIDS epidemic, especially among women, and the popularity of HC use in many settings, any evidence that HC use may increase the risk of HIV transmission or contribute to disease progression could be expected to have significant impact on policy and program discussions as well as individual women’s decision making.

In response to this potential problem, Gynuity convened a meeting of top experts in the field in May 2005. The meeting’s purpose was to review existing evidence and reach consensus on implications for reproductive health and HIV programs and future research. The participants concluded that there is evidence suggestive of increased HIV susceptibility with hormonal contraceptive use among female sex workers. However, no basis exists for women in the general population to change their contraceptive behavior. Gynuity continues to be involved in global efforts to explore and advise on this topic to advance women-centered recommendations.