In an effort to solve the overpopulation problem in Africa, a popular contraceptive used widely in the eastern and southern regions has recently been linked to the rise in HIV across the country. The hormone shot administered every three months actually doubles the risk for women and makes their male partners twice as likely to catch HIV than if the women had not used any contraception (Belluck). .
The study conducted by the University of Washington used 3,800 couples in Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia who already had one partner who was already HIV-positive. The couples reported their contraception methods for two years, and the uninfected partner was regularly screened for HIV. Two previous studies found similar links between the injectable contraceptives and rates of HIV (Belluck). .
Approximately 6 percent of all women between the ages of 15 and 49 use the injectable hormones in Africa, while 3 percent, or 1.2 million women, use the contraception in the United States. The study was conducted only in Africa, but scientists see no reason why the findings would be different had the study also involved women in America. However, the effects are most alarming for African women because the transfer of HIV from heterosexual sex is greater in sub-Saharan Africa causing many organizations to panic (Belluck).
"The best contraception today is injectable hormonal contraception because you don't need a doctor, it's long-lasting, it enables women to control timing and spacing of birth without a lot of fuss and travel," said Isobel Coleman of the Council on Foreign Relations. "If it is now proven that these contraceptions are helping spread the AIDS epidemic, we have a major health crisis on our hands" (Belluck).
Jared Baeten from the University of Washington agreed, "These findings have important implications for family planning and HIV-1 prevention programs, especially in settings with high HIV-1 prevalence.