Analysis of 12 Studies Links HIV Risk to Contraceptive Use

Data published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases on Jan. 8 shows that some contraceptives for women may increase the risk of contracting HIV. This information comes from researchers from the University of California Berkeley, who analyzed 12 studies.

Data published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases on Jan. 8 shows that some contraceptives for women may increase the risk of contracting HIV. This information comes from researchers from the University of California Berkeley, who analyzed 12 studies.

“Our findings show a moderate increased risk of HIV acquisition for all women using depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, with a smaller increase in risk for women in the general population,” wrote the authors of the report. “Whether the risks of HIV observed in our study would merit complete withdrawal of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate needs to be balanced against the known benefits of a highly effective contraceptive.”

The studies that were examined included women who were taking contraception in the form of pills, injectables, and norethisterone enanthate. Results from more than 39,000 women from these trials were examined. Depot medroxyprogesterone appeared to increase the risk of contracting HIV by 40% compared with women who do not used contraceptives. However, the researchers noted that there was only a moderate increase in relative risk.

“Although individual study estimates suggested an increased risk, substantial heterogeneity between two studies done in women at high risk of HIV infection precluded pooling estimates,” the authors continued. “There was no evidence of an increased HIV risk in ten studies of oral contraceptive pills or five studies of norethisterone enanthate.”

Lauren Ralph, lead author, went onto specify that this risk does not suggest that women should cease contraceptive use. Additionally, banning depot medroxyprogesterone may lead to challenges in obtaining contraceptives.