contraception does not appear to increase women's overall
risk of contracting HIV, according to a U.S. National
Institutes of Health study published on Thursday.
published on the Web site of the journal
followed thousands of women in Africa and Asia and
compared their patterns of contraceptive use to their risk
of infection with HIV. "Understanding whether hormonal
contraceptive use alters the risk of HIV acquisition
among women is a critical public health issue," the
study authors wrote.
Some 6,000 women
in Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Thailand enrolled in the study
and were offered a choice of the most commonly prescribed
forms of hormonal contraception--birth control pills
or DMPA (depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate)
injections--as well as condoms.
the women, aged 18 to 35, were either using no hormonal
contraceptives or had used them for at least three months
before the study began. None were infected with HIV
when they enrolled, the researchers wrote.
primarily were women who sought family planning services
at clinics. They were tested for HIV four to five times a
year for 15 to 24 months.
By the time the
study ended, 213 African women and four Thai women had
tested positive for HIV. Because there were too few cases in
Thailand for a valid statistical interpretation, those
cases were excluded from the final analysis, the
When the 213
cases were considered together, researchers found no
evidence that use of hormonal contraceptives increased a
woman's chances of becoming infected with HIV, the
"In summary, this
large, multisite study found no overall increased risk
of HIV acquisition associated with hormonal contraceptive
uses, " the study authors wrote.
authors noted that their study could not rule out an
increase in risk for HIV infection among those already at
higher than normal risks such as sex workers.
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