Every woman and girl has the right to high quality, voluntary, family planning, regardless of her HIV status.
Linking family planning and HIV services is crucial for achieving FP2020 and Sustainable Development Goals and for realizing the global dream of an AIDS-free generation. Women of reproductive age are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic. Many women, especially young women and adolescent girls, are simultaneously at risk for both unintended pregnancy and HIV infection. In addition, the global COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated longstanding challenges in women’s and girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health care, including family planning, HIV and STI prevention, testing, and treatment. These include stockouts, siloed care, and limited ability to access services, whether due to clinic closures or travel restrictions. These challenges present both immediate and long-term threats to the health of women and girls.
Comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care that includes family planning and HIV and STI prevention and treatment services is essential to provide women and their families with the protection they need.
Since 1991, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been tracking evidence on whether there is a connection between the use of hormonal contraceptive methods and HIV. To gather high quality information about how different methods affected HIV risk, the Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV Outcomes (ECHO) clinical trial compared three highly effective, reversible methods of contraception—the progestogen-only injectable depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA-IM), a progestogen implant called Jadelle, and the copper intrauterine device (IUD)—to evaluate the difference in the risk of HIV acquisition among women using these methods. Significantly, the ECHO study did not find any substantial difference in HIV risk among women using the three methods studied. All contraceptive methods tested were safe, effective, and acceptable in preventing pregnancy.
However, the trial demonstrated that women want and will use a range contraceptive methods. Women want choices to help them make an informed decision about their health, including preventing unintended pregnancies, and STIs including HIV. This is especially critical for young women and adolescent girls, who due to multiple factors, including sexual violence and barriers to accessing contraception including stigma, restrictive laws and restricted access, knowledge gaps, health worker bias, and other challenges, are at high risk for unintended pregnancy and HIV.”