Low-dose combined oral contraceptive and cervicovaginal shedding of human immunodeficiency virus

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Background: The role of low-dose oral contraceptives on HIV cervicovaginal shedding among HIV-positive women is controversial. Study Design: We evaluated the effect of low-dose oral contraceptives on HIV cervicovaginal shedding in a cohort of 285 HIV-seropositive women followed for a median of 20 months. A sensitive, competitive polymerase chain reaction (cPCR) and a reverse transcription PCR (cRT-PCR) were applied for the quantification of HIV-associated and cell-free RNA and proviral DNA in cervicovaginal cells, as well as HIV-RNA in plasma. Results: In multivariable logistic generalized estimating equations, plasma viral load >100 copies/mL (OR=1.81, 95% CI=1.3-2.53) and bacterial vaginosis (OR=1.49, 95% CI=1.1-2.02) were associated with an increased risk of HIV-1 DNA shedding, whereas current use of oral contraceptive was associated with a reduced risk (OR=0.55, 95% CI=0.33-0.92). Oral contraceptives were also associated with a reduction of risk (OR=0.38, 95% CI=0.21-0.69) of cell-associated but not cell-free HIV-1 RNA. Conclusions: In HIV-positive women with low levels of HIV viremia, low-dose oral contraceptives were associated with a modest but significant reduction of HIV-1 DNA and cell-associated HIV-1 RNA genital shedding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-570
Number of pages7
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011



  • Cervicovaginal secretions
  • Heterosexual transmission
  • HIV shedding
  • Infections
  • Oral contraceptives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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