36.7 million People across the world are reported to be infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus- HIV. 50% of the victims are found to be the inhabitant of eastern and southern Africa. A long list of the factors contributing to the disease including the risks associated with it is seen circulating around the internet.
Recently, the journal “Endocrine Reviews” by “Endocrine Society” declared the contraceptive injections to be an emerging cause of HIV infection. This study was supported by National Institutes of Health and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
A team of researchers at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and the University of Alabama at Birmingham examined various biological species during their course of study.
Their research led them to conclude that contraceptive shots were composed of Depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) which was solely responsible for the propagation and growth of Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
Sub Saharan Africa was asserted to be a high-risk area.
According to the researchers, DMPA showed a slightly different behavior and mechanism of working in comparison to the other progestin-based contraceptives. Due to this anomalous behavior, it was attributed to causing HIV infection by up to 40%.
Contraceptive acts like a stress hormone on the cells of the genital tract e.g. like Cortisol. It is observed to come in contact with HIV which in turn bumps up the risk of complementing the disease. In addition, contraceptives also decrease the immune functions and damage the protective barrier and the functioning of female genitals.
Yeast overgrowth and infection, irregular bleeding, higher blood pressure, spotting between periods, fluid retention and lower bone density, liver and gallbladder diseases including liver tumors and gallstones are some of the frequently observed side effects of the contraceptives.
Unexpected pregnancies leading to unsafe abortions are a crucial cause of the increasing use of contraceptives among women. In this way, women become more susceptible and vulnerable to HIV infections. It was further revealed that around 50 million women across the world use birth control medications.
The first author Professor Janet P. Hapgood stated in a News report that the biological structure of DMPA may further clarify its participation in causing HIV. The professor also proposed that contraceptives employing the other form of progestin on contrary to, DMPA may diminish the chances of HIV progression or transmission.
Dr. Zdenek Hel, the co-author of the study, highlighted and stressed upon the use of safe, effective, accessible, and affordable birth control medications for women around the world. He commented that 50% of the unintended pregnancies end up on abortions and it is critical to replace DMPA with a safer alternative. He emphasized on the promotion of general awareness among women. He added that women should be completely given the access to a full range of contraceptive choices and should be informed regarding the benefits and potential dangers associated with them.
The investigators also disclosed a recent formulation that may counter the suppressive effect of DMPA on the immune system. It was named as “Sayana Press”. It is reported to subcutaneously administer 31% of the fewer hormone. However, Hel said that reducing the amount of hormone would not be a solution to the problem, but a qualitative solution must be derived by merging the clinical knowledge with public health policies.
The authors have declared that a comprehensive research is still on its way to design certain formulas that would serve the desired purpose, keeping in view the health and well being of the individual.