We know that hormonal birth control doesn’t protect against STDs, but now it turns out it might actually increase the risk of infection. Whoa.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a group of researchers at the University of Washington accidentally discovered a link between hormonal contraceptives and an increased risk of contracting HIV during sex with an infected partner.
In conducting a trial testing the effectiveness of a drug in preventing the transmission of HIV, researchers monitored which types of protection (condoms, hormonal contraceptives, non-hormonal contraceptives) participants used, and checked regularly for new instances of infection. Analysis of the data showed a higher rate of infection in women during periods when they were using hormonal contraceptives, specifically progesterone-only injectibles.
The World Health Organization examined the data and came out with groundbreaking advice that nobody’s ever heard before: use condoms. Use them all the time.
Both the WHO and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention stressed that women at risk for HIV infection should continue to use hormonal birth control in addition to condoms. Both cited the additional health risks of pregnancy, not the least of which is the potential to pass the infection to the fetus.
The Guttmacher Institute, while citing the many merits of the study and its potential implications, also pointed out its limitations and stressed that more research is needed to definitively link HIV contraction to the use of hormonal contraceptives.
For more information on the methodology, click here. And don’t forget to use a condom.
Image courtesy of plannedparenthood.com