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Experts meet to pass verdict on contraceptives

Source: Nairobi Star
Monday, 30 January 2012 00:05
BY JOHN MUCHANGI
WOMEN will tomorrow know if they should change use of injectable contraceptives after research revealed they double the likelihood of getting HIV. World Health Organisation said it will analyse the study tomorrow and give a verdict immediately. The study, partly conducted in Kenya,revealed that injectables like Depo Provera double the risk of women contracting HIV and also increase the risk of HIV-positive users infecting their male partners.

Director of Public Health Shahnaaz Sharif advised Kenyan women to continue using the birth control method while the government waits for direction from WHO. “For us the injectables are perfectly safe and until the WHO advises we cannot advise otherwise,” he said recently. WHO said yesterday their experts will meet in Geneva to evaluate the available scientific evidence in this area.

“Current WHO recommendations on contraceptive use for women at risk of HIV, women with HIV infection or AIDS, will be assessed to determine whether they remain consistent with the updated body of evidence or whether modifications need to be made,” the organisation said in a statement. The study raised concerns in Kenya because hormonal contraceptives are the most preferred due to convenience. Women using Depo provera, for instance, simply need only one injection every three months.

The study involved 3,800 couples from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Rwanda, South Africa and Zambia. It was published in The Lancet medical journal. It was led by University of Washington but also included researchers from Kenyatta National Hospital, University of Nairobi and Moi University.

Renee Heffron, the co-author, said they were unable to conclusively establish why injectables increased the risk of HIV. “It could be that progestin in injectables causes immunological changes in the vagina and cervix or could increase the HIV’sability to replicate,” he said. He, however, dismissed suggestions that women on birth control are often careless in using condoms for protection.

According to the 2008 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, 48 per cent of married women in Kenya use injectables, while 16 per cent of total users prefer the pill. Women using implants account for about14 per cent of total users. The WHO recommendations will be applied to the 2010 clinical guidance on contraceptives use and guide the development of research priorities for research in this area

injectable contraceptive

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