HIV-Positive Women Can Safely Use IUDs, Study Shows
In contrast to guidelines from the World Health Organization and the Planned Parenthood Federation, a new study has found that HIV-positive women can "safely use the intrauterine device (IUD) for contraception, provided they see a doctor regularly," Reuters Health reports. Researchers at North Carolina-based Family Health International placed the device in 636 women in Nairobi, Kenya -- 156 of whom were infected with HIV -- and examined any complications at one, four and 24 months after insertion. Dr. Charles Morrison, who led the study, said there was "little difference in any side effects" between HIV-positive women and HIV-negative women, "suggesting that the IUD is likely an appropriate [contraceptive] method" for HIV-positive women. The study, published in the August issue of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, also showed that HIV-positive women did not shed more HIV from their cervix four months after IUD insertion, compared to HIV-negative women. Previous studies have shown that increased viral shedding occurs with the use of oral contraceptives and Depo-Provera, an injectable contraceptive. Morrison said, "This is an important issue, because there are 16 million women living with HIV and lot of them have a critical need for contraception." The study, however, did find that women with gonorrhea or chlamydia were more likely to develop IUD complications, a conclusion on par with guidelines recommending that women with STDs besides HIV avoid IUDs. Morrison concluded, "What this study suggests is that you need to avoid IUD use in women with a cervical infection but not women with HIV infection. Women with cervical infections are at increased risk of complications; women with HIV infection are not" (Reuters Health, 8/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.