June 27, 2012
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publicly endorsed what the World Health Organization announced earlier this year: There is no proven link between using hormonal contraceptives such as the birth control pill or Depo-Provera and a woman's increased risk of contracting HIV.
... [A]fter reviewing the studies, the Atlanta-based CDC said, "the evidence does not suggest" a link between oral contraceptives such as the birth control pill and increased HIV risk.
For injectable forms of birth control such as Depo-Provera the evidence is inconclusive, but in the absence of more definitive research it too is considered safe, CDC officials said.
Women at risk for HIV infection or who already have the virus "can continue to use all hormonal contraceptive methods without restriction," the CDC said.
The CDC also emphasized the importance of using condoms in order to prevent HIV infection.
Dr. Naomi Tepper, a CDC medical officer, told Reuters, "All women, if they don't want to become pregnant should be using an effective method of contraception. And they also should be using something to protect against HIV or sexually-transmitted infections."
Both the CDC and WHO statements go against a 2011 study published in Lancet Infectious Diseases that suggested hormone injections nearly doubled the chance that a woman would pass HIV to her partner, or contract it from a partner living with HIV/AIDS.
Last October, TheBody.com blogger Gary Bell, MSW, LCSW, offered some possible reasons as to why birth control could increase a woman's chance of contracting or transmitting HIV:
The Progestin in injectable contraceptives may have a physiological effect, such as immunologic changes in the vagina and cervix. Moreover, researchers found more HIV in the vaginal fluid of those using hormonal contraception than those who did not. This might help to explain why men might have increased risk of infection from hormonal contraceptive users.
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Kellee on Twitter: @kelleent.
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