A recent study may have found a biological explanation for why certain types of injectable and oral contraceptives can put women at increased risk of HIV infections. The study suggests these medications may suppress the vaginal immune response in certain women, a finding which sheds new light on the possible impact hormonal contraceptive methods can have on the vaginal environment.
Over the years, different studies have produced conflicting results on whether or not a relationship between hormonal contraceptives and HIV infection risk actually exists. However, the new study, published in the journal mBio, will hopefully set the record straight. According to lead author Dr. Raina Fichorova in a recent statement, the link does exist and the reason for previous inconsistencies in research “lies in the microbial communities of the reproductive tract.”