Experts Take Study On Contraceptive Use, HIV Risk Seriously But Warn About Drawing Conclusions Prematurely Because Of Study's 'Methodological Weaknesses'

In this post in RH Reality Check, Jodi Jacobson, editor-in-chief of the blog, responds to an article published in the New York Times on Tuesday regarding a study suggesting that “HIV-negative women using injectable contraception might face a two-fold risk of acquiring HIV from their infected partners, and that HIV-positive women using injectable contraceptives may be twice as likely to pass the virus on to their uninfected partners.” She continues, “Public health and women’s rights experts are taking the study very seriously but also caution against drawing conclusions from the NYT story in part because it overstated or misrepresented some of the study’s findings while neglecting to mention several potential weaknesses.” Jacobson urges the public health community to examine methodological weaknesses of the study, weigh the evidence presented and balance the risks of any policy or programmatic changes resulting from the study prior to taking action (10/5).

Caitlin Gerdts and Divya Vohra, staff epidemiologists at the Bixby Center for Population, Health & Sustainability at the University of California at Berkeley, also comment on the study in this Daily Beast opinion piece, stating, “The current study suggests that this is a link worth investigating — but in a thorough, careful, and rigorous manner,” noting several methodological flaws in the study and the lack of scientific consensus on whether hormonal contraceptives are linked to “higher susceptibility to HIV transmission” (10/6).