It's Complicated: Injectable Contraceptives and HIV Transmission in Africa

By Sharita Thomas, Staff Editor For policymakers involved in developing regions, no issues are more urgent and confounding than those concerning improving the health outcomes of women and children and those concerning the elimination of pandemic diseases. It appears policy formation for these regions has the potential to become even more complex. The results of a recent University of Washington study, highlighted by the New York Times, proposes a link between injectable hormonal contraceptive use and higher H.I.V. transmission rates. The medical and international development communities are anxiously awaiting the results of a proposed January 2012 WHO review of the research in question and the prospective changes, if any, to current contraceptive recommendations. Media reporting on this issue should avoid simply encouraging the cessation of a proven method of birth control, and should instead focus on involving communities in the discussion of family planning and sexually transmitted infections.

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