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February 17, 2012

Dear Advocate,

Yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO) published a statement on a recent technical consultation on the use of hormonal contraceptives and HIV risk, and WHO recommendations around contraceptive use for women living with HIV/AIDS or at high risk of HIV. AVAC will hold a global teleconference to discuss the recommendations on Thursday, February 23 at 9am ET.

In the statement, the WHO notes that experts at the consultation concluded that the WHO should continue to recommend that there are no restrictions on the use of any hormonal contraceptive method for women living with HIV or at high risk of HIV. However, they recommended that a new clarification be added for women using progestogen-only injectable contraception who are at high risk of HIV. They emphasized that women should also use condoms to prevent HIV acquisition and transmission. They also stressed the need for further research on the issue and the importance of offering a wider choice of contraceptive options. For a summary of the consultation proceedings, click here.

Please join us for a global advocates' teleconference to discuss the WHO recommendations on Thursday, February 23 at 9am US Eastern Time (to confirm the time in your time zone visit The 60-minute teleconference will feature representatives from the WHO, UNAIDS, program implementers and civil society representatives who participated in the technical consultation. The bulk of the call will be devoted to a facilitated discussion on the WHO recommendations and what they mean for women and the programs that serve them.

Please click here to register for the call.

Over 70 experts in family planning, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, and civil society representatives met in Geneva in late January to review the data around HIV transmission and acquisition risk and use of hormonal contraceptives. The data review was largely spurred by the October 2011 publication of data from the Partners in Prevention HSV/HIV Transmission Study, which suggested that use of hormonal contraceptives increases both the risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV—with the highest risk seen in those using injectable contraceptives. Additional details on these data and background on the issue can be found here.

In advance of the expert consultation, more than 40 women—representing HIV prevention advocates, reproductive health service providers and women living with HIV from across Africa—met in Kampala, Uganda, to review and discuss the existing data on hormonal contraceptive use and HIV risk. The meeting was convened by the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS East Africa (ICW-EA) and AVAC. A summary of the meeting and key consensus points are available here.

We hope you will join us for next week's call to discuss the recommendations with leaders in HIV/AIDS and reproductive health, program implementers, policy makers and fellow advocates.

As noted above, much of the call will be devoted to discussion during which you can pose questions, but if you have any questions in advance, please send them to Also, the call will be recorded and archived on the AVAC website shortly after its conclusion.

Stay tuned for more on this critical issue, and we look forward to welcoming you on next week’s teleconference!


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