Contraception Access for HIV-Positive Women Should Be Boosted To Prevent Mother-to-Child Transmission, Letter to Editor Says
Preventing unintended pregnancies among HIV-positive women is an "important and cost-effective way" to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, Willard Cates, president of research at the Institute for Family Health at Family Health International, writes in a letter to the editor in the Dec. 20, 2006 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to Cates, "appropriate supportive counseling" and access to effective reproductive services, including contraception, can help HIV-positive women "make informed reproductive choices either to prevent unintended pregnancies or to enhance their chances of intended conception." Cates adds that current levels of contraceptive use by HIV-positive women in sub-Saharan Africa might prevent nearly three times as many infections in infants annually as the cumulative number of HIV infections prevented by antiretroviral drugs since 1999. Many HIV treatment programs "do not include routine services for other sexual and reproductive health needs of women," Cates writes, concluding that "[m]ore must be done" to ensure access to safe and effective contraception for HIV-positive women who do not want to become pregnant, "both for their own well-being and to prevent new infections in their infants" (Cates, JAMA, 12/20/06).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.