13 June 2019

Africa: Three of the Most Used Contraceptives Don't Increase HIV Risk - ECHO Study

Photo: Sethekele Ncube/allAfrica
A panel presents the findings of the Echo study - the product of a three-year study conducted among about 7 800 women in eSwatini, South Africa, Kenya and Zambia. Using these contraceptives will not increase women's chances of acquiring HIV, the Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV Outcome scientists have revealed.

Johannesburg — Using Depo-provera will not increase women's chances of acquiring HIV, the Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV Outcome (ECHO) scientists have revealed at the SA AIDS Conference in Durban - answering a worrying question for women.

The ECHO study has found no significant difference in risk of HIV acquisition among women using one of three methods of birth of control that are used on the continent - DMPA, the Copper IUD and Jadelle implant.

Doctors, activists and the audience have welcomed the findings but agree that women still need to have access to a broad range of effective and acceptable methods of contraception, as current levels are not ideal.

The findings have also been hailed by the WHO  coordinator for the Human Reproduction Team, Dr James Kiarie. He however s ays that women still need to have access to a wider range of effective and acceptable methods of contraception as current levels are not ideal.

The ECHO study has concluded that many women in Africa are at a high risk for HIV infection and for morbidity and death from unwanted pregnancies. It has also highlighted the importance of women's informed choice in sexual and reproductive health services. This will increase women's family planning decision-making and provide health care providers and policymakers in delivering high-quality rights-based contraceptive care.

"The study is a wake up call for all of us especially around HIV prevention and women’s choices. Women don’t love Depo and need to be presented with all birth control methods and given an opportunity to choose," Yvette Raphael, an activist with the Advocacy for Prevention of HIV and AIDS group and the Global Community Advisory Group for ECHO has said. Raphael has called upon WHO to review the results from the study quickly.

 

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