Use of Hormonal Contraceptives and Risk of HIV-1 Transmission: A Prospective Cohort Study

Lancet Infect Dis. 2012 Jan;12(1):19-26. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(11)70247-X. Epub 2011 Oct 3.

Abstract

Background: Hormonal contraceptives are used widely but their effects on HIV-1 risk are unclear. We aimed to assess the association between hormonal contraceptive use and risk of HIV-1 acquisition by women and HIV-1 transmission from HIV-1-infected women to their male partners.

Methods: In this prospective study, we followed up 3790 heterosexual HIV-1-serodiscordant couples participating in two longitudinal studies of HIV-1 incidence in seven African countries. Among injectable and oral hormonal contraceptive users and non-users, we compared rates of HIV-1 acquisition by women and HIV-1 transmission from women to men. The primary outcome measure was HIV-1 seroconversion. We used Cox proportional hazards regression and marginal structural modelling to assess the effect of contraceptive use on HIV-1 risk.

Findings: Among 1314 couples in which the HIV-1-seronegative partner was female (median follow-up 18·0 [IQR 12·6-24·2] months), rates of HIV-1 acquisition were 6·61 per 100 person-years in women who used hormonal contraception and 3·78 per 100 person-years in those who did not (adjusted hazard ratio 1·98, 95% CI 1·06-3·68, p=0·03). Among 2476 couples in which the HIV-1-seronegative partner was male (median follow-up 18·7 [IQR 12·8-24·2] months), rates of HIV-1 transmission from women to men were 2·61 per 100 person-years in couples in which women used hormonal contraception and 1·51 per 100 person-years in couples in which women did not use hormonal contraception (adjusted hazard ratio 1·97, 95% CI 1·12-3·45, p=0·02). Marginal structural model analyses generated much the same results to the Cox proportional hazards regression.

Interpretation: Women should be counselled about potentially increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition and transmission with hormonal contraception, especially injectable methods, and about the importance of dual protection with condoms to decrease HIV-1 risk. Non-hormonal or low-dose hormonal contraceptive methods should be considered for women with or at-risk for HIV-1.

Funding: US National Institutes of Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa, Eastern / epidemiology
  • Africa, Southern / epidemiology
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Cervix Uteri / virology
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal*
  • Female
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology*
  • HIV Seropositivity / immunology
  • HIV Seropositivity / transmission*
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal