Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Hormonal contraceptives and HIV


Aids Alliance

The World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded that women living with HIV or at high risk of HIV can continue to use hormonal contraceptives, but that dual protection is essential to effectively prevent HIV.

You can read the technical statement here. This advice follows a thorough review of evidence and a consultation with experts.

WHO recommended that women living with HIV, or at high risk of HIV, continue to use hormonal contraceptives to prevent pregnancy, but emphasized the need for dual protection. Couples seeking to avoid unintended pregnancy and HIV should always use condoms and another effective contraceptive method, such as hormonal contraceptives.

The review of the existing recommendations was made following a study published in Lancet Infectious Diseases in October 2011. This study suggested that the use of hormonal contraceptives might double the risk of HIV transmission among women and their partners. 

WHO states that due to inconclusive evidence, no restrictions on the use of any hormonal contraceptive method for women living with HIV and those at high risk of HIV are recommended at this stage.  The statement also stresses the importance of offering a wider choice of contraceptive methods and the need for further research on the issue.

Dual protection

Divya Bajpai, the Alliance’s sexual and reproductive health Adviser, commented that “for the Alliance, this further underlines the importance of promoting dual protection in our programmes in order to protect against STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancies. It is essential that we act quickly to ensure that this information is clearly communicated to health care providers and women living with or at high risk of HIV.”

Having participated in the stakeholder consultation, Divya stressed that “meaningful involvement of women living with HIV and key populations should be strengthened in WHO’s consultations on future research and communications”.

“The timeline for further research is 4-5 years, so it is essential that WHO rapidly develops and disseminates further guidance on this issue in order to ensure that women receive clear and correct information to make informed choices”, Divya said. “They also need to be provided with effective contraceptives that suit their family planning needs whilst also providing dual protection against STIs and HIV. To make this happen it is critical to have the international community’s support, including country governments and bilateral donors."

Other statements

Collaborative statement from women's health advocates

AIDS-Free World

AVAC briefing on hormonal contraceptives and HIV-1 risk

    this underlines the importance of promoting dual protection to protect against STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancies