Friday, February 17, 2012

WHO Announcement on HIV and Injectable Contraception a Responsible Step Forward

Today the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the results of a technical consultation examining the potential link between hormonal contraception and HIV risk. On the advice of its Guidelines Review Committee, WHO concluded that current medical eligibility criteria recommendations should remain—that women at high risk of HIV infection can continue to use all existing hormonal contraceptive methods (oral contraceptives, injectables, patches, rings, and implants) without restriction. It also recommended that women at high risk of HIV who choose progestin-only injectable contraception should be strongly advised to also use condoms and other preventive measures. WHO also called for expansion of the contraceptive method mix and further research on the relationship between hormonal contraception and HIV.

Below is a statement by Population Council president Peter Donaldson in response to the WHO announcement:
"The Population Council welcomes today's announcement from the World Health Organization, which was based on a careful review of the scientific evidence. Many women and men in developing countries where maternal mortality and HIV risk are high urgently want to plan their families and prevent HIV. Today's guidance protects women's rights and health by recommending that women have access to highly effective contraceptive methods, are fully informed about potential risks and benefits, and receive counseling on how to stay safe.
"WHO recommended that providers strongly advise women at high risk of HIV who choose progestin-only injectable contraception to also use condoms and other preventive methods to reduce their risk of HIV. This will encourage clinicians to provide women with full information about potential risks and benefits of contraceptive methods, without unnecessarily impeding access to them.
"For sixty years, the Population Council has conducted important biomedical, social science, and public health research to develop new contraceptive methods and improve the delivery of family planning and other reproductive health services. Today's announcement underscores the need for new, multi-purpose products that prevent both HIV and unintended pregnancy—and for new contraceptive methods that better meet the family planning needs of women in developing countries. The Population Council's Center for Biomedical Research is working on both."


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