It has been known that Depo-provera (DMPA) doubles the risk of HIV transmission (from HIV positive men to HIV negative women and from HIV positive women to HIV negative men) for more than twenty years. Yet the debates are still about whether it’s ‘preferable’ for women and men to risk infection with HIV than to risk unplanned pregnancy.
Problem is, those doing the debating have forgotten to ask the people most affected by this dilemma. Those most likely to be affected are often women and men in high HIV prevalence countries. Considering there are numerous alternatives to Depo-provera, it seems likely that a lot of people would choose to use one of them, and there would be no dilemma.
But UNAIDS take their customary position of supporting the pharmaceutical industry in their monthly ‘Science Now’, where they add a self-serving gloss to recent articles about HIV. The Lancet appears to prefer debating about whether there should or shouldn’t be a randomized controlled trial. One article in the journal argues that injectable hormonal contraceptives are the most widely used form of birth control.
But doesn’t that raise several questions, such as why Depo-provera injectable contraceptive is so widely used, especially in areas where HIV prevalence is high? To what extent have people been warned about the risks they and their sexual partner face? It appears that the views of those who are subjected to extremely aggressive marketing of DMPA are irrelevant to the debate.
Big pharma and their friends at The Lancet, UNAIDS, WHO and elsewhere have decided that people in developing countries should reduce their population at all costs, including risking being infected with HIV or infecting others. But there is no need to choose between these two: there are alternatives to Depo-provera that don’t increase the risk of HIV transmission.
Perhaps some are calling for the withdrawal of Depo-provera, but others are calling for those aggressively promoting injectable contraception, perhaps in order to further their ends of population control, vast profits and neocolonialism, to be properly regulated, and a full disclosure of known risks to be included on the packaging.
The pharmaceutical industry, the agencies that have been set up or co-opted to promote their interests, such as WHO, UNAIDS, various academic instutions, medical journals and the rest, do not ‘know best’. They can not be trusted to be left on their own to make good decisions about the health and lives of people in developing countries.