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FHI 360 commends updated guidance on contraception for women at high risk of HIV

August 29, 2019

Young woman in ZambiaFHI 360 welcomes the World Health Organization’s updated guidance on contraceptive use by women at high risk of acquiring HIV infection and applauds the thoughtful, thorough review process that led to these new recommendations.

Released today, the guidance recommends no restrictions on the use of any reversible contraceptive method — including progestogen-only injectables and implants and all types of intrauterine devices (IUDs) — for women at high risk of HIV.

An independent panel of experts recommended the new guidance after a careful review of the available data, including the results of the landmark Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV Outcomes (ECHO) Study.

The first large-scale randomized clinical trial of the relationship between hormonal contraception and HIV, the ECHO Study found no substantial difference in the risk of HIV acquisition among women using three different contraceptive methods: the progestogen depot medroxyprogesterone acetate given by intramuscular injection (DMPA-IM), a nonhormonal copper IUD or a progestogen implant containing levonorgestrel (LNG).

FHI 360 commends the panel’s conclusions that a woman’s risk of HIV acquisition should not restrict her contraceptive options and that integration of family planning and HIV prevention services is essential, especially in areas with high HIV prevalence among women.

“As WHO and its partners move from global guidance to implementation of the new recommendations, a focus on integration will be critical,” said Dr. Timothy Mastro, FHI 360 Chief Science Officer and a member of the ECHO Management Committee that led the trial. “The alarmingly high levels of HIV acquisition among ECHO trial participants show us that women need access to integrated family planning and HIV services and to a comprehensive package of HIV prevention methods, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).”

“The ECHO results also support access to a broader mix of contraceptive methods,” said Dr. Laneta Dorflinger, Distinguished Scientist and Director of Contraceptive Technology Innovation at FHI 360. “The new WHO recommendations, based on a thorough review of all available evidence, indicate that contraceptive options not be limited for women at high risk of HIV infection. Now programs must work to expand contraceptive options for all women.”

Read more about FHI 360’s work in family planning and HIV prevention, care and treatment.

Photo credit: Leanne Gray/FHI 360