Objective: HIV-infected women need access to safe and effective contraception. Recent animal and human data suggest that hormonal contraception may accelerate HIV disease progression.
Methods: We compared the incidence of HIV disease progression among antiretroviral therapy-naive women with and without exposure to hormonal contraception at 13 sites in Africa and Asia. Disease progression was defined as becoming eligible for antiretroviral therapy or death.
Results: Between 1 August 2002 and 31 December 2007, the MTCT-Plus programs enrolled 7846 women. In total, 4109 (52%) women met eligibility criteria for this analysis and contributed 5911 person-years of follow-up (median follow-up, 379 days; interquartile range, 121–833). At baseline, 3064 (75%) women reported using either no contraception or a nonhormonal method, whereas 823 (20%) reported using implants/injectables and 222 (5%) reported using oral contraceptive pills. The disease progression outcome was met by 944 (29%) women (rate, 18.3/100 woman-years). Neither implants/injectables (adjusted hazard ratio 1.0, 95% confidence interval 0.8–1.1) nor oral contraceptive pills (adjusted hazard ratio 0.8, 95% confidence interval 0.6–1.1) were associated with disease progression. Treating contraceptive method as a time-varying exposure did not change this negative finding.
Conclusion: This multicountry cohort analysis provides some reassurance that hormonal contraception is not associated with HIV disease progression. Further research is needed to address the contraceptive needs of HIV-infected women.