Clarification to WHO note to the media issued on 16 February 2012

WHO upholds guidance on hormonal contraception and HIV

WHO reiterates that its current recommendations in the Medical eligibility criteria for contraceptive use (2009 edition) remain: there are no restrictions on the use of any hormonal contraceptive method for women living with HIV or at high risk of HIV. However, because of the inconclusive nature of the body of evidence that has emerged on possible increased risk of HIV acquisition, women using progestogen-only injectable contraception should be strongly advised to also always use condoms and other HIV preventive measures.

The Organization also emphasizes that these recommendations clearly state that hormonal contraceptives do not prevent HIV transmission. Couples seeking to prevent both unintended pregnancy and HIV are therefore strongly advised to use dual protection – condoms (male or female) in combination with other effective methods such as hormonal contraceptives.

One immediate challenge is to communicate this information adequately to women, so they can make well informed decisions concerning the choice of contraceptive methods and to reinforce the need for effective HIV prevention. WHO and UN partners are currently working with civil society and community groups on a comprehensive communications plan to address this issue.