"Women On Contraceptives Sh’d Have Safe Sex To Avoid HIV"
The Ministry of Health has clarified on a study published in the medical journal, The Lancet that suggested that hormonal contraception doubled the risk of a woman contracting HIV and of HIV-positive women transmitting the virus to their partners.
According to Director General of Health Services Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the study prompted expert consultations to review available research on the topic in early 2012 and as a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) affirmed existing guidelines allowing all women to use hormonal contraception without restrictions.
“The Ministry of Health assures the public that hormonal contraceptives are highly effective methods of pregnancy prevention however, they do not prevent transmission or acquisition of HIV,” says Aceng.
“The Ministry of Health together with the World Health Organization (WHO) therefore encourages couples to continue using available family planning methods of their choice including Depo Provera but at the same time observe safe sex practices, use condoms and other HIV preventive measures to avoid infection and transmission of HIV,” she adds.
The prevalence of infection for HIV in Uganda is 6.7% according to the recent survey and the most common mode of transmission is unprotected sex between men and women.
Aceng notes a number of interventions are currently being undertaken by the Government to control the spread and transmission of HIV.
“Family Planning methods do not only help in planning and spacing families but is being used to reduce the high rates of maternal and infant mortality by preventing both unplanned and unwanted pregnancies which lead to various negative health outcomes.”
She further states that currently, Uganda loses 6,000 women every year due to pregnancy related causes.
ABORTION RELATED DEATHS
“The Ministry of Health observes that the most common contributory factors to this high maternal mortality rate in Uganda is too many, too early, too late, too frequent and unwanted pregnancies,” says Aceng.
Research shows that abortion contributes 25% of maternal deaths in Uganda. However, this can be controlled if women observe family Planning practices.
There are a number of indications that maternal mortality in Uganda is decreasing as the use of Family Planning increases among the population.
Research has shown that death among women who give birth too early (below 18) is five times higher compared to those who give birth later.
The too frequent pregnancies weaken the uterus as they do not allow it to recover its strength and can easily tear.
On average, a Ugandan woman produces 6-7 children in her life time. Beyond the 4th child, the risk of dying from bleeding, rupture of the uterus, high Blood Pressure and other complications increase.
With each birth, a woman loses over 250mls of blood which is risky to her health as it takes about 2-3 years to recover it. The teenage pregnancy rate in Uganda is about 25%.
“This is quite unacceptable and it leads to many school drop outs. The Ministry of Health therefore urges women to observe family planning and safe sex to reduce such risks,” cautions Aceng.
The Ministry of Health notes that Depo Provera, which is the most common method in Uganda, is efficient and convenient for a woman because it is a long term method and only requires returning to the health worker after three months for another dose.
Currently over 50% of public health facilities that provide Family Planning services also test for HIV. Ministry of Health is working towards ensuring that all health facilities test for HIV.
Research on the link between contraceptives and HIV is still going on and is being conducted by experts all over the world.
The Ministry also reiterates that the use of hormonal methods including injectable contraceptives should be combined with measures of HIV prevention such as use of condom.
The general public is urged to continue using the recommended Family Planning methods of their choice, as they are safe and efficient.
Health workers throughout the country are also urged to continue administering the contraceptives as recommended.
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Updated on 2013-05-09 09:25
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