September 15, 2014
On Friday, AVAC, the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS-East Africa and advocates including members of South Africa’s AIDS Legal Network, the ATHENA Network and Pangaea Zimbabwe AIDS Trust released an editorial calling for full funding for a crucial trial focused on contraception and HIV risk
The trial, known as ECHO, is designed to evaluate whether different contraceptive methods might increase women’s risk of acquiring HIV. There have been questions about the possible links between HIV risk and contraceptive methods for many years. These questions focus largely on the progestogen-only injectable contraceptive known as Depo Provera, or DMPA or Depo. Depo is one of the most widely used contraceptive methods in sub-Saharan Africa. Some studies suggest that Depo increases women’s risk of acquiring HIV; other studies do not. Much of the data are observational—they were gathered from trials designed to answer other questions.
Little is known about the relationship between HIV risk and newer hormonal methods such as the implant or other injectables. The ECHO trial has been designed to directly answer the question for Depo, the Jadelle implant and the copper intrauterine device.
In the editorial, which was published on Reproductive Health Reality Check
, the authors argue that this trial is “one of the best research investments that could be made in reproductive health and rights in the context of women and HIV today.”
The authors are members of a civil society working group focused on and in sub-Saharan Africa that has been closely tracking this issue for some time. The editorial is one of several steps we have taken to widening discussion and amplifying voices on this issue. The work focused on ECHO is part of a broader advocacy agenda regarding integration of sexual and reproductive health and HIV—including expanding the range of options for women (“method mix”) and ensuring clear communication about the current WHO guidance on hormonal contraception and HIV
For background, visit www.avac.org/hc-hiv
, and please save the date for our October 1 webinar in the Research & Reality
series that will provide a chance for advocates to hear from some of the leading researchers on this issue—including those involved with the proposed trial.
To get involved in ongoing advocacy focused on ECHO and related issues, please contact us