Contraceptive pills are commonly available medications taken for the purpose of birth control or safe sex. Two types of female oral contraceptive pills are widely available. These pills contains an oestrogen and/or a progestogen, and is taken once per day. A new study reveals that probability of HIV is enhanced by intake of hormonal contraceptives.
Increased risk of HIV
Jared Baeten, MD, of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues found that HIV-negative women using hormonal contraception had nearly twice the risk of catching HIV as compared to women using other methods or none. They also found that HIV-negative male partners of women with the virus also face an increased risk if the women use hormonal methods of contraception, mainly injections of long-acting depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA).
The researchers acknowledged that the study raises important public health questions and needs a randomized trial to confirm or refute the findings. Research involved study of couples and the following observations were made:
- Among 1,314 couples where man was HIV-positive, the rate of HIV acquisition for women was 6.61 per 100 person-years if they used hormonal contraception, compared with 3.78 per...
100 person-years if they did not.
- Similarly, among the 2,476 couples in which the woman was HIV-positive, the rate of HIV transmission to the uninfected male partner was 2.61 per 100 person-years if women used hormonal contraception and 1.51 per 100 person-years if they did not.
However they cautioned that the purpose this study study was not to to examine the contraception issue, therefore the women consuming hormonal contraception were relatively small in proportion and few infections occurred between them and their partners.
The study does raise a crucial link between hormonal contraceptives and HIV infection. I think, a larger clinical trial should be conducted in order to address the issue.