More evidence link popular birth control drug to HIV infection


By Gatonye Gathura

Evidence published on Tuesday shows popular injectable Depo Provera increases the risk of HIV infection to women users and their partners.

An analysis commissioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Guttmatcher Institute for the umpteenth time shows a link between use of Depo Provera and increased HIV infection.

The new study published in the journal Aids on Tuesday had analyzed studies in the last two years on past numerous findings that Depo Provera could double the risk of HIV infection in users.

“Our findings suggest credible concerns about Depo Provera and HIV acquisition risk in women,” the research concluded.

The debate has been going on for almost 25 years with researchers mainly in Africa, with the highest AIDS burden, asking a reluctant World Health Organisation to give new guidelines on use of hormonal contraceptives.

In a statement yesterday WHO guardedly accepted the findings. “These new data, however, do strengthen existing concerns about a possible increase in risk of HIV acquisition in women using injectable Depo Provera, although the statistical significance of these studies varies and they are observational in nature.”

In the statement WHO agrees there exists a coincidence between high rates of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa with high use of the reversible Depo Provera injection.

In the statement it promises to ‘convene yet another expert review group later in 2016 to examine the links between the use of various hormonal contraceptive methods and women’s risk of HIV acquisition.’

Such an expert review group, not the first in recent years, will assess whether current WHO guidance needs to change in the light of the new evidence from a study it had commissioned.

But study co-author Dr Tsungai Chipato off the University of Zimbabwe calls for quicker and decisive action from the WHO.

“Determining if these new findings warrant a reconsideration of global clinical guidelines for Depo Provera is an important next step for the World Health Organisation.”

The contention, Guttmatcher Institute says is between the impact of removing the popular injection for checking population growth and or reducing new HIV infection in Africa.

Held hostage by donors on behalf of big pharma, not one Sub-Saharan government has voiced an independent position on the issue, four years ago Kenya preferring to put the matter in the hands of the WHO.

Rocket Science

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