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April 23, 2012

Dear Advocate,

This update contains links to an updated AVAC issue brief on the relationship between injectable contraceptives and HIV risk, and video of an excellent overview of the issue presented at the recent Microbicides 2012 conference by Dr. Helen Rees of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute in South Africa. It also contains the link to an important community survey on the topic that just launched and will be open until April 30th.

These resources aim to help advocates engage with ongoing discussions about the next steps following the February 2012 WHO Technical statement on hormonal contraceptives and HIV risk. This statement summarized the discussions of a consultation on available evidence on this important topic.

The WHO review concluded that the existing evidence neither confirmed nor ruled out the possibility of a link between injectable contraceptives and HIV risk. One notable change was the new recommendation that all women at risk of HIV using progestogen-only injectable contraceptives be counseled to use condoms.

Dr. Helen Rees’s presentation on the topic provides valuable insight into the types of issues discussed during that technical deliberation. AVAC’s information brief provides basic information, along with a set of “next steps” and a list of commitments that have been made by WHO and UNAIDS to date.

The survey, which was developed by the ATHENA Network and other partners, is available in multiple languages (English, French, Russian and Spanish). The developers have also created a "community dialogue guide" that advocates can use to engage with women and men who do not have access to computers, and whose input is critical for this issue (also available in English, French, Russian and Spanish). It is an important opportunity for women and men to voice experiences in accessing family planning and their understanding of the recent WHO technical statement on hormonal contraception and HIV risk.

Feedback received via the survey will be used to inform ongoing advocacy work, including civil society participation in an upcoming WHO/UNAIDS/UNFPA stakeholder consultation on “Communicating and Operationalizing Recommendations for Family Planning and HIV.” Click here to access the survey.

We will be preparing additional resources in the coming weeks and months and urge our partners to participate in the survey—and to send ideas, questions and information needs to avac@avac.org.

Best,
AVAC


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