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WHO Confirms Recommendations Regarding HIV, Female Hormonal Contraceptives After Review of Studies

February 17, 2012

"A stakeholder consultation convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva has reviewed recent epidemiological studies related to HIV transmission and acquisition by women using hormonal contraceptives," a UNAIDS press statement reports (2/16). In a technical statement (.pdf), "[t]he Geneva-based United Nations health agency confirmed its existing recommendations [Thursday] after a study published last year found using contraceptive injections doubles the chance women will catch HIV and transmit it to a male partner," Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Hallam, 2/16). The WHO "concluded that hormonal contraception -- whether the pill or injection -- was safe for women at risk of HIV to use if they wanted to prevent pregnancy," the Guardian notes (Boseley, 2/16).

According to a WHO media note, the agency recommends there be "no restrictions on the use of any hormonal contraceptive method for women living with HIV or at high risk of HIV," and "[c]ouples seeking to prevent both unintended pregnancy and HIV should be strongly advised to use dual protection -- condoms and another effective contraceptive method, such as hormonal contraceptives" (2/16). "UNAIDS recommends that people who are sexually active -- particularly women and girls -- have full access to information and counseling to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health needs," the U.N. News Centre writes (2/16).

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