October 13, 2011
This is an invitation to a global advocates’ teleconference on Thursday, October 20, at 10am US Eastern time (see www.timeanddate.com for the time in your area). The call will provide an opportunity for advocates, researchers and policy makers to discuss and ask questions about recently published data on the relationship between hormonal contraceptive use and risk of HIV infection.
Data from a study published on October 4th in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases suggest that use of hormonal contraceptives increases both the risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV—with the highest risk seen in those using injectable contraceptives. The data come from two prospective studies of HIV incidence in HIV-serodiscordant couples (one partner is HIV-negative, one is HIV-positive) in east and southern Africa. The majority of couples in the cohort were part of the Partners in Prevention HSV/HIV Transmission Study, which looked at HSV-2 suppression and HIV transmission risk—results published in 2010 reported flat results for HIV prevention. Data from this cohort, along with data from couples enrolled in a separate observational study at Partners’ trial sites, were analyzed regarding hormonal contraceptives and HIV risk.
In an accompanying commentary in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, “Hormonal contraception and HIV: an unanswered question”, Charles Morrison and Kavita Nanda of FHI 360 offer a short overview of some of the relevant data, note the need for a better understanding of the relative risks and call for a randomized trial of hormonal contraception and HIV acquisition. Additional commentary and background on these issues are available from the Guttmacher Institute in its memo "Hormonal Contraceptives and HIV Risk—Emerging Evidence in Context" and in a recent post on RH Reality Check, "Hormonal Contraception and HIV: Weighing the Evidence and Balancing the Risks".
Next week’s call will include study investigators from the Partners’ team, along with leaders in both HIV prevention and reproductive health, to discuss these issues: what we do and don’t know about both contraceptive use and pregnancy as they relate to the risk of HIV.