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The Pill’s Deadly Affair with HIV/AIDS

March 5th, 2011
By Joan Robinson

The U.S. is contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS among African women by its reckless distribution of hormonal contraceptives of all kinds in so-called “reproductive health” programs.

The world’s deadliest killer, HIV/AIDS, and the Birth Control Pill have been carrying on a secret and deadly “love affair” for decades. While women swallowed their “freedom” with the morning orange juice, studies that should have made global headlines yellowed in medical journals, unknown to the general public. Only doctors learned about the pills deadly affair with HIV/AIDS, and they were too busy writing prescriptions for hormonal contraceptives to talk.

More than 50 medical studies, to date, have investigated the association of hormonal contraceptive use and HIV/AIDS infection. The studies show that hormonal contraceptives—the oral pill and Depo-Provera—increase almost all known risk factors for HIV, from upping a woman’s risk of infection, to increasing the replication of the HIV virus, to speeding the debilitating and deadly progression of the disease.1

A medical trial published in the journal AIDS in 2009—monitoring HIV progression by the need for antiretroviral drugs (ART)—saw “the risk of becoming eligible for ART was almost 70% higher in women taking the pills and more than 50% higher in women using DMPA [Depo-Provera] than in women using IUDS.”2

Studies aside, it is well known that HIV/AIDS strikes more women than men. Some would argue that this is a result of the desire of men for young—and presumably uninfected, sexual partners. Few are willing to discuss a more obvious explanation, namely, that the Pill and Injectables render women particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

How serious is the problem? Oral contraceptives and Depo-Provera are among the world’s most popular and prevalent contraceptive methods. According to one study, “Globally, at least 150 million women currently use hormonal contraceptive methods.”3 In America, hormonal contraceptive rates are over 52% in unmarried women—those at greatest risk of HIV/AIDS. Moreover, in the interest of lowering the birth rate, the UNFPA and USAID continue unloading boatloads of hormonal contraceptives on Africa, Haiti and other AIDS-ravaged developing nations.

The best meta-analysis done to date, done by Dr. Chia Wang and her colleagues, surveyed the consensus results of the 28 best published studies since 1985. They found that the “significant association between oral contraceptive use and HIV-1 seroprevalence or seroincidence … increased as study quality increased.” In fact, “Of the best studies, 6 of 8 detected an increased risk of HIV infection associated with OC [oral contraceptive] use.”4

On the National Scale

Moreover, Wang’s results showed even more of a Pill/HIV link when they limited studies to those conducted on African populations. This is significant for two reasons:

First, sub-Saharan Africa is home to the world’s earliest and largest heterosexual HIV/AIDS epidemic, which to date has infected an estimated 22.4 million5 people. This is two-thirds of the total number of infections worldwide.

Second, sub-Saharan Africa has endured decades of contraception-focused population control programs and countless hormonal-contraceptive trials. “Among the six [African] countries hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic … two in three users in the six countries rely on the OC (oral contraceptives) or injectables,”6 said Iqbal Shah of the World Health Organization.

Likewise, Thailand, praised for a contraceptive prevalence of 79.2% in 2000 and upwards of 70% today, is a land where, “More than one-in-100 adults in this country of 65 million people is infected with HIV.”7 Among Thai women, “Oral contraception is the most popular method.”8, 9

On the other hand, Japan’s HIV rate is, at 0.01%, one of the lowest in the world.10 In this context, it is important to note that the birth control pill was illegal in Japan until 1999, and even today only 1% of Japanese women use oral contraception. Similarly, the predominantly Catholic Philippines, with a longstanding popular resistance to contraception, boasts an HIV “prevalence rate of only 0.02%.”11

Hormonal Changes Heighten HIV Risk

The studies that demonstrate a connection between hormonal contraceptives and HIV/AIDS infection postulate a number of mechanisms at work.

First, let’s review the basics. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), is carried in warm blood or sexual fluids. It infects through fragile, inflamed, bleeding or needle-pricked tissue, attacks specific T-cells in the immune system, and causes the incurable, debilitating condition known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

Hormonal contraceptives increase almost all known risk factors for HIV infection.

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  1. Sean
    March 5th, 2011 at 16:23 | #1

    Better to expand access to condoms that limit access to birth control pills. It makes no sense to infect both a woman and a fetus with HIV.

  2. nerdygirl
    March 6th, 2011 at 15:59 | #2

    Oh, so women shouldn’t be allowed access to birth control because MEN don’t think it’s important to wear condoms when chances of pregnancy are around 2%?

    Why don’t we make men wear chastity belts, surely that would be a more efficient means of birth control and STI reduction.

  3. nerdygirl
    March 6th, 2011 at 20:53 | #3

    I also like that we don’t mention lack of knowledge in sub-saharan Africa has led to the belief that sex with a virgin woman will cure HIV. But that doesn’t fit in with our viewpoint, so we’ll ignore it and blame birth control instead. AWESOME.

  4. Jossi
    March 9th, 2011 at 17:04 | #4

    AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease, you get it from an exchange of body fluids with an infected person, taking an oral contraceptive can prevent a pregnancy; one has nothing to do with the other. The constant lies of the Ruth Institute are a laughable thing. I’m shocked that in the year 2011 someone would say something so stupid.

  5. Betsy
    March 9th, 2011 at 17:23 | #5

    If you have a problem with this article, take it up with the author.

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