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WHO Criticized for Not Efficiently Communicating Recommendations on HIV, Contraception to African Women, PlusNews Reports

March 2, 2012

"HIV organizations, researchers and activists have criticized the WHO and UNAIDS for not clearly communicating [guidelines on HIV and hormonal contraception] to African women, who remain the most affected by the continent's high HIV prevalence rates," PlusNews reports. In February, the WHO confirmed its existing recommendations after a study published last year suggested that using hormonal contraceptive injections might double the risk of women acquiring HIV or transmitting the virus to a male partner, according to the news service. "However, because the U.N. agency was unable to definitively rule out the possibility that progesterone-only birth-control shots like Depo-Provera posed no HIV risk, it is now strongly advising women at risk of or living with HIV to use condoms concurrently to prevent HIV infection or transmission," PlusNews writes.

"According to Mary Lyn Gaffield, a WHO epidemiologist who coordinated the recent meetings [to review the recommendations], the WHO has already begun translating the 16 February statement [.pdf] into multiple languages, and is developing tools for family planning and HIV service providers that will incorporate the need to caution women using progesterone-only contraception on possible HIV risks," according to the news service. The article also contains comments from Helen Rees, executive director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa; UNAIDS science adviser Cate Hankins; and Charles Morrison, senior director of clinical sciences at FHI360 (3/1).

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