Oral Contraceptives May Increase HIV Risk

Researchers may have uncovered some possible indications that hormonal methods of contraception may be associated with an increased risk of HIV. The recent report was a result of an observational analysis of a randomized trial that involved couples where one partner had HIV while the other did not. The report was published on the online journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The report made by researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle also provided possible indications that the use of hormonal contraceptives in women may also affect the HIV risk in men. The observational analysis made during the randomized trial suggested that HIV-negative women who took hormonal contraception, which included the Pill, are twice as likely to contract HIV from their partners as compared to those women who did not. Not only that, the study also found that HIV-negative men with women partners who have HIV and had used hormonal contraceptives also stand to faced some increased risk of catching the virus. The results were relatively the same for oral and injectible forms of hormonal contraceptive methods.

The results of the study may raise certain health concerns that may require another randomized trial to either refute or confirm the initial findings of the researchers. If the findings are indeed found to be true via a succeeding randomized trial, it may be possible that the promotion of the hormonal contraceptives in Africa may have contributed to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the continent.

The source of the data came from a study that involved 3,790 couples. The initial objective of the study was looking into the possible implications of treating herpes simplex II and how it may affect the risk of acquiring HIV among couples where one partner is HIV positive. While the primary aim of the study showed that such treatments provided no connection, the researchers, led by Jared Baeten, MD, of the University of Washington examined the collected data further to determine whether some new facts could be added into the hormonal contraceptive debate.

The researchers eventually found out that in the 1,314 couples where the male partner was HIV positive, the rate of HIV acquisition for females was 6.61 per 100 person-years if they used hormonal methods of contraception. The rate for those women who did not use hormonal contraceptive was 3.78 per 100 person-years. The effect seems to have been the same for both injectible and oral forms of hormonal contraception.

The study also showed that in the 2,476 couples where the female partner was HIV-positive, the rate of HIV acquisition in men was 2.61 per 100 person-years if their female partners used hormonal contraception. The rate was 1.51 per 100 person-years for those whose female partners did not take hormonal contraception.

The researchers also noted that the findings were the result of analysis based upon observation using data for a different randomized trial. In addition, the researchers also cautioned that the hormonal contraception use among the women participants involved was based on self-report. The researchers further surmised that a new randomized trial designed specifically to look into this newly discovered health issue may be required in order to determine whether the initial findings are similar or may have different results altogether.

Source: Everyday Health
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