The Depo-Provera shot is a very common form of hormonal birth control. You don’t have to remember to take something every day, you don’t have to have any devices inserted anywhere, and you don’t have to remember to have it handy every time that you want to get busy. It is one shot every three months and you are protected from pregnancy. Over the last few years researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have been looking at 12 studies that were done in sub-saharan Africa to see if there was a link between hormonal birth control and the risk of getting HIV.
Over the 12 different studies there were more than 39,500 participants. With all of those participants the researchers had to make sure that things were control so as not to skew the results. They factored in different transmission risks and had very strict guidelines as to who could participate in the studies. They looked at the different birth control methods that the women were on such as the Depo shot, a shot called the NET-OEN shot (another hormonal birth control shot), the pill, and progestin-only pills.
What the researchers found by looking at the data from all of these women is that the Depo shot increased the risk of transmission of HIV. As compared to women who used non-hormonal birth control or women who didn’t use any at all, the Depo shot increased the risk by 40%. The risk was about 31% higher with people from the general population that didn’t have risk factors such as an HIV-positive partner. Dr. Lauren Ralph, one of the authors of the study states that there is no reason to panic if you are on the Depo shot however.
It is unclear as to why the Depo shot increases the risk of transmission of HIV but that is something that will have to be studied more. Ralph states that these studies were done in Africa where HIV is extremely prevalent and hormonal birth controls are easily accessed. In countries like the US there is not as much of a chance or transmission. She doesn’t see anything that would warrant the Depo shot to be pulled from the market either because even though it increased the risk by 40% the transmission rate of HIV was still very low.