Statement Regarding Study of the Relationship Between Hormonal Contraceptive Use and HIV Risk | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Reducing unintended pregnancies and preventing HIV infections are critically important for women’s health.
Reducing unintended pregnancies and preventing HIV infections are critically important for women’s health. A study published last week in Lancet Infectious Diseases revisited the open question of the relationship between hormonal contraceptive use and HIV risk. This issue is an urgent priority that merits further global attention and investment, and the foundation is committed to working with partners to pursue a more definitive study of this question and to supporting WHO to provide updated scientific evidence to policy makers.
Over the past 15 years several studies have suggested that the use of some hormonal contraceptives may increase the risk of HIV acquisition. Other studies, however, have not found a significant increase in HIV risk. All of these studies have been observational in nature, which makes it difficult to interpret their results, thus highlighting the need for a definitive study to answer this critical question. Without a stronger evidence base, the foundation believes changes in policies and standards may not be warranted before the WHO evaluation of available evidence in early 2012. The question of hormonal contraceptive use and HIV acquisition remains unanswered and is a critical priority for prospective investigation by the global public health community.