Background: Safe and effective contraceptives are needed for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected women. The levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (LNG-IUS) is a highly effective contraceptive with additional health benefits. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of the LNG-IUS among HIV-infected women.
Methods: Twelve systematically managed HIV-infected women were studied prospectively. Following a 2-month run-in period, the subjects had an LNG-IUS inserted and were followed up for 1 year. Patterns of bleeding, blood haemoglobin and CD4-lymphocyte content, plasma HIV RNA, serum levels of LNG, of estradiol (E(2)) and of ferritin and genital shedding of HIV RNA were monitored.
Results: Menstrual bleeding was reduced significantly during the use of the LNG-IUS; this was associated with slight increases in serum haemoglobin and ferritin levels. Serum E(2) concentrations remained in the follicular range in all subjects. Among subjects using antiretroviral medication, the proportion of cervicovaginal lavage specimens with detectable HIV RNA was 10% before and after the insertion of the LNG-IUS.
Conclusions: The effects of the LNG-IUS on bleeding patterns, body iron stores and ovarian function were similar to those seen in healthy women. Genital shedding of HIV RNA was not affected by the LNG-IUS. These data encourage further studies on the effects of the LNG-IUS on reproductive health among HIV-infected women.