Hormonal contraception is central in the prevention of unintended pregnancy; however there are concerns that certain methods may increase the risk of HIV acquisition and transmission. Hormonal contraceptives may modify the genital mucosa in several ways, however the mechanisms are incompletely understood. Few studies have examined genital HIV shedding prospectively before and after initiation of hormonal contraception. The effects of hormonal contraception on genital HIV shedding in the setting of antiretroviral therapy (ART) are also unknown. We designed a pilot clinical trial in which HIV-infected and uninfected women were randomized to either depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) injectable or levonorgestrel (LNG) implant in Lilongwe, Malawi. The objectives were to: 1) assess the effect and compare the impact of type of progestin contraception (injectable versus implant) on HIV genital shedding among HIV-infected women, 2) assess the effect and compare the impact of type of progestin contraception on inflammatory/immune markers in the genital tract of both HIV-infected and uninfected women, and 3) assess the interaction of progestin contraception and ART by examining contraceptive efficacy and ART efficacy. An additional study aim was to determine the feasibility and need for a larger study of determinants of HIV transmissibility and acquisition. As injectable contraception is widely used in many parts of the world with high HIV prevalence, this study will provide important information in determining the need for and feasibility of a larger study to address these questions that can impact the lives of millions of women living with or at risk for HIV.
Published by Elsevier Inc.