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From effectiveness to impact: contraception as an HIV prevention intervention
  1. R Wilcher,
  2. T Petruney,
  3. H W Reynolds,
  4. W Cates
  1. Family Health International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
  1. R Wilcher, Family Health International, P O Box 13950, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA; rwilcher{at}


Background: Most efforts to date to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV have focused on provision of antiretroviral prophylaxis to HIV-infected pregnant women. Increasing voluntary contraceptive use has been an underused approach, despite clear evidence that preventing pregnancies in HIV-infected women who do not wish to become pregnant is an effective strategy for reducing HIV-positive births. This paper reviews international, country and service delivery level opportunities for and obstacles to translating contraceptive efficacy into interventions that will have an impact on the effectiveness of HIV prevention.

Methods: The integration of family planning services and HIV programmes as a potential intervention were specifically reviewed.

Results and conclusions: Despite substantial policy support for the integration of family planning and HIV programmes, burgeoning resources for HIV ignore the potential impact of contraception on HIV prevention. Moreover, separate funding for these two programmes and the resulting vertical organisation of health ministries and service facilities undermine coordination between departments and limit providers’ ability to address the contraceptive needs of HIV-positive clients. Projects integrating family planning and HIV services are being implemented, allowing for documentation of factors that facilitate or impede integrated service delivery. However, few have been evaluated to demonstrate impact on contraceptive uptake and HIV-positive births averted.

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  • Funding: Support for this study was provided by Family Health International (FHI) with funds from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Cooperative Agreement Number GPO-A-00-05-00022-00, although the views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of FHI or USAID.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Contributors: RW, HR and WC conceptualised the paper; all authors participated in identification of articles and policies for review, analysis, and interpretation; RW was the lead writer; and HR and WC provided detailed comments on the paper.