The Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV Outcomes (ECHO) study that was carried out in four African countries found no significant difference in risk of HIV infection among women using any of the three highly-effective reversible contraceptive methods that were studied.
The three Contraceptive methods were copper-releasing intrauterine device (Cu-IUD), a levonorgestrel (LNG) implant (Jadelle) and depot medroxyprogesterone acetate-intramuscular (DMPA-IM), also known as Depo-Provera.
The study findings according to Ministry of Health support continued access to all the methods studied by all women.
The study was carried out in Swaziland, Kenya, Zambia and South Africa among participants below the age of 25 years.
“This age bracket was used because of their increased sexual activity and contraception seeking methods,” reads statement from ministry of health.
“It also showed that each method had high levels of safety and effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, with all methods well-accepted by the women using them.”
Currently, Uganda’s unmet need for contraceptive use increased from 26% in 2011 to 35% in 2016 while the unmet need for family planning reduced from 34.4% in 2011 to 28% in 2016.
Results from this study will guide the Ministry of Health in deriving interventions to increase the demand for contraceptive use among women of reproductive age.
The ministry said results from ECHO will inform improved counseling, expanded method choices and integration of HIV prevention and treatment with contraceptive programs.
WHO, UNAIDS and UNEPA welcomed the results, and as is standard practice for WHO, when important new research findings are published relating to contraceptive safety, WHO will convene a Guideline Development Group to examine the updated evidence on links between the use of various hormonal contraceptive methods and women’s risk of HIV acquisition.
The Guideline Development Group will meet at the end of July 2019 to assess whether current WHO guidance needs to change in the light of the updated evidence.
“In the meantime, all three contraceptive methods should continue to be made available to women for use.”
However, it was discovered that incidence of HIV infections among the participants was high — an average of 3.8% — indicating that HIV remains a significant personal risk and public health challenge for many women in this country.