Hormonal contraception and HIV acquisition among women: an updated systematic review

Kathryn M Curtis, Philip C Hannaford, Maria Isabel Rodriguez, Tsungai Chipato, Petrus S Steyn, James N Kiarie

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OBJECTIVE: To update a 2016 systematic review on hormonal contraception use and HIV acquisition.

METHODS: We searched Pubmed and Embase between 15 January 2016 and 26 June 2019 for longitudinal studies comparing incident HIV infection among women using a hormonal contraceptive method and either non-users or users of another specific hormonal contraceptive method. We extracted information from newly identified studies, assessed study quality, and updated forest plots and meta-analyses.

RESULTS: In addition to 31 previously included studies, five more were identified; three provided higher quality evidence. A randomised clinical trial (RCT) found no statistically significant differences in HIV risk among users of intramuscular depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA-IM), levonorgestrel implant (LNG implant) or the copper intrauterine device (Cu-IUD). An observational study found no statistically significant differences in HIV risk among women using DMPA, norethisterone enanthate (NET-EN), implants (type not specified) or Cu-IUD. Updated results from a previously included observational study continued to find a statistically significant increased HIV risk with oral contraceptives and DMPA compared with no contraceptive use, and found no association between LNG implant and HIV risk.

CONCLUSIONS: High-quality RCT data comparing use of DMPA, LNG implant and Cu-IUD does not support previous concerns from observational studies that DMPA-IM use increases the risk of HIV acquisition. Use of other hormonal contraceptive methods (oral contraceptives, NET-EN and implants) is not associated with an increased risk of HIV acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-16
Number of pages9
JournalAfrican Journal of Reproductive Health
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Disclaimer The findings and conclusions of this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, or other institutions with which the authors are affiliated.

Competing interests MIR reports personal fees from Merck (contraceptive implant trainer) and Bayer (IUD trainer), outside the submitted work. TC, JK and PS were members of the ECHO trial consortium, and JK and PS were part of the writing group for the ECHO trial results. All of the authors participated in the 2019 WHO Guideline Development Group (GDG) process which assessed recommendations on contraception for women at high risk of HIV.

Patient consent for publication Not required.

Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Contributors KC, PH, TC, PS and JK were coauthors on the previous systematic review and contributed to the planning of this updated review. KC, PH and TC conducted the literature search, screening, and risk of bias assessment. MIR conducted the meta-analysis. KC wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors contributed to subsequent drafts and approved of the final manuscript.


  • RISK
  • Humans
  • Adolescent
  • Hormonal Contraception/methods
  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Infections/diagnosis
  • hormonal contraception
  • epidemiology
  • human immunodeficiency virus
  • intrauterine devices


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