UNAIDS - February 16, 2012
WHO recommendations related to use of hormonal contraceptives
remain unchanged. The use of condoms--male and female--is a
reliable method of HIV prevention.
GENEVA, 16 February 2012--A stakeholder consultation convened by
the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva has reviewed recent
epidemiological studies related to HIV transmission and
acquisition by women using hormonal contraceptives. After careful
review of all available evidence, the stakeholders found that the
data were not sufficiently conclusive to change current guidance.
In light of this review, WHO today announced that its current
recommendation��--no restrictions on the use of hormonal
contraceptives to avoid unintended pregnancies--remains unchanged.
They also recommend that women using progestogen-only injectable
contraceptives also use condoms or other measures to prevent HIV
About half of the 34 million people living with HIV are women. In
sub-Saharan Africa, the region most affected by the epidemic,
nearly 60% of all new HIV infections occur in women.
The level of unmet family planning need among the 1.18 billion
women aged 15-49 worldwide is estimated to be 11%. Among the 128
million women (married or in a union) aged 15-49 in sub-Saharan
Africa, the estimated unmet need for family planning is more than
twice as high, at 25%. This highlights the urgency of finding
innovative solutions that address the dual needs of women in
preventing HIV and stopping unintended pregnancies.
While a range of contraceptives protect against unintended
pregnancies, only condoms, male and female, provide dual
protection by stopping HIV transmission and preventing unintended
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
recommends that people who are sexually active--particularly women
and girls--have full access to information and counselling to make
evidence informed choices about their sexual and reproductive
health needs. Women and girls must also have access to the widest
range of contraceptive and HIV prevention options. Such services
must be provided in an integrated manner by health workers.
The lack of female controlled methods of HIV prevention and low
levels of condom use place women and girls at increased
vulnerability to HIV infection. "Women need safe contraceptive
and HIV prevention options that they can own and manage," said
Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS. "New investments
into research for female controlled HIV prevention options and
safe contraceptive methods are essential."
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