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The Pill’s Deadly Affair with HIV/AIDS

LifeSiteNews.com
LifeSiteNews.com

By Joan Claire Robinson

April 21, 2010 (pop,org) - The world's deadliest killer, HIV/AIDS, and the Birth Control Pill have been carrying on a secret and deadly "love affair" for decades.  While women swallowed their “freedom” with the morning orange juice, studies that should have made global headlines yellowed in medical journals, unknown to the general public. Only doctors learned about the pills deadly affair with HIV/AIDS, and they were too busy writing prescriptions for hormonal contraceptives to talk.

More than 50 medical studies, to date, have investigated the association of hormonal contraceptive use and HIV/AIDS infection. The studies show that hormonal contraceptives—the oral pill and Depo-Provera—increase almost all known risk factors for HIV, from upping a woman's risk of infection, to increasing the replication of the HIV virus, to speeding the debilitating and deadly progression of the disease.1 

A medical trial published in the journal AIDS in 2009—monitoring HIV progression by the need for antiretroviral drugs (ART)—saw “the risk of becoming eligible for ART was almost 70% higher in women taking the pills and more than 50% higher in women using DMPA [Depo-Provera] than in women using IUDS.”2

Studies aside, it is well known that HIV/AIDS strikes more women than men.  Some would argue that this is a result of the desire of men for young—and presumably uninfected, sexual partners.  Few are willing to discuss a more obvious explanation, namely, that the Pill and Injectables render women particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

How serious is the problem?  Oral contraceptives and Depo-Provera are among the world's most popular and prevalent contraceptive methods. According to one study, “More than 100 million women worldwide use hormonal contraception.”3 In America, hormonal contraceptive rates are over 52% in unmarried women—those at greatest risk of HIV/AIDS.  Moreover, in the interest of lowering the birth rate, the UNFPA and USAID continue unloading boatloads of hormonal contraceptives on Africa, Haiti and other AIDS-ravaged developing nations.

The best meta-analysis done to date, done by Dr. Chia Wang and her colleagues, surveyed the consensus results of the 28 best published studies since 1985.  They found that the “significant association between oral contraceptive use and HIV-1 seroprevalence or seroincidence …  increased as study quality increased.” In fact, “Of the best studies, 6 of 8 detected an increased risk of HIV infection associated with OC [oral contraceptive] use.”4

On the National Scale

Moreover, Wang's results showed even more of a Pill/HIV link when they limited studies to those conducted on African populations. This is significant for two reasons: 

First, sub-Saharan Africa is home to the world's earliest and largest heterosexual HIV/AIDS epidemic, which to date has infected an estimated 22.4 million5 people.  This is two-thirds of the total number of infections worldwide.

Second, sub-Saharan Africa has endured decades of contraception-focused population control programs and countless hormonal-contraceptive trials. “Among the six countries hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic … two in three users in the six countries rely on the OC (oral contraceptives) or injectables,”6 said Iqbal Shah of the World Health Organization.

Likewise, Thailand, praised for a contraceptive prevalence of 79.2% in 2000 and upwards of 70% today, is a land where, “More than one-in-100 adults in this country of 65 million people is infected with HIV.”7 Among Thai women, “Oral contraception is the most popular method.”8 9

On the other hand, Japan's HIV rate is, at 0.01%, one of the lowest in the world.10  In this context, it is important to note that the birth control pill was illegal in Japan until 1999, and even today only 1% of Japanese women use oral contraception.  Similarly, the predominantly Catholic Philippines, with a longstanding popular resistance to contraception, boasts an HIV “prevalence rate of only 0.02%.”11

Hormonal Changes Heighten HIV Risk

The studies that demonstrate a connection between hormonal contraceptives and HIV/AIDS infection postulate a number of mechanisms at work. 

First, let's review the basics.  The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), is carried in warm blood or sexual fluids. It infects through fragile, inflamed, bleeding or needle-pricked tissue, attacks specific T-cells in the immune system, and causes the incurable, debilitating condition known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

Hormonal contraceptives increase almost all known risk factors for HIV infection.

Studies have found that hormonal contraceptives “alter the microenvironment of the female”12  and boost the cell count of those specific cells that HIV uses to infect and proliferate (HIV co-receptor CCR5 in cervical CD4+ T lymphocytes).

What is more, a progesterone side effect known to American women as “breakthrough bleeding,” is caused when hormonal contraceptives excessively thicken the uterine lining. The large, bleeding surface of the uterus creates an ideal site for HIV infection. 

Progesterone also has an immunosuppressant effect, which means that women using hormonal contraceptives have less in the way of natural defenses against HIV and other STDs, such as chlamydial infection or genital herpes (HSV-2).13 14 In one study, “HSV-2 infection itself more than tripled the risk of HIV infection.”15

In the vagina, increased blood and the independent hormonal effects of the Pill eliminate the natural pH acid protection against infection. What is more, a famous study of rhesus macaques found that hormonal contraceptives thin the vaginal walls and markedly increase SIV infection (the monkey equivalent of HIV).16 Vaginal dryness, another side effect of hormonal contraceptives, is not only painful but also makes one prone to tears and abrasions—fertile sites for infection.

One study points out, “On a cellular level, hormonal contraceptives have been associated with cervical and vaginal inflammation.”17

Further, hormonal birth control causes the fragile cervical tissue to grow beyond its natural bounds and replace what would normally be thick, protective membrane. This “cervical ectopy” is dangerous because the cervix's thin surface is the main site of HIV infection.18

Given all these different ways that hormonal contraception promotes HIV/AIDS infection, it is not at all surprising that several studies show women on the pill, Depo-Provera, etc., are more likely to be infected with not just one, but several variants or strains of HIV.  This “in turn leads to higher levels of viral replication and more rapid HIV-1 disease progression.”19 20 21

Women on hormonal contraceptives are not only more likely to contract HIV/AIDS, they are also more likely to pass it along to their sexual partners.  The three studies which focused on “the impact of hormonal contraception on cervical shedding of the cell-associated virus”22 all found that HIV-positive women on hormonal contraceptives are far more likely shed HIV in their body fluids.   High-dose pill users were over 12 times more likely to shed the HIV virus than women not using contraception, low-dose users were almost 4 times more likely, and Depo-Provera users were 3 times more likely.23

The Pill Pushers Push Back

Some dismiss out of hand the impressive body of scientific research demonstrating a  Pill/HIV link. They quote from the handful of studies and highly selective trials which claim to find “no increase in HIV risk among users of oral contraceptives and Depo-Provera.”24

The problem with many of these studies, such as Mati et al. 1995, Kapiga et al. 1998, and Sinei et al. 1996 is that they were conducted with and through “family planning clinics.” Since the chief business of these clinics is the promotion, sale, and distribution of contraceptives, the possibility of bias is undeniable.  Who would trust Marlboro to monitor a study on the link between cigarettes and cancer?

Moreover, the handful of studies that deny a link between hormonal contraception and increased risk of contracting HIV are dwarfed by the more than 50 studies that have not only found such a link, but convincingly explained precisely what it is about such contraception that contributes to the spread of the disease. 

Yet population control groups continue to lobby for more contraception, not less.  Take Dr. Willard Cates, president of the Institute for Family Health of Family Health International (FHI), one of the major purveyors of hormonal contraception to the developing world.  Wrote Cates to the Journal of American Medical Association, “Preventing unintended pregnancies among HIV-infected women who do not currently wish to become pregnant is an important and cost effective way of preventing new HIV infections of infants. … More must be done to ensure access to safe and effective contraception for HIV-infected women.”25

Obviously, FHI's concern here is less to prevent the infection of preborn infants, than to continue to contracept as many women as possible with your tax dollars and mine.  What the organization refuses to admit, however, is that by doing so it is arguably contributing to the spread of the HIV virus. 

How many lives are being lost because we continue to ship boatloads of hormonal contraceptives to a continent and to countries laboring under an HIV/AIDS pandemic?   Isn't it time that we stopped?

See the full report in the upcoming May/June Issue of the PRI Review.

Endnotes

1  Baeten et al. 2003, “Hormonal Influences on HIV Disease and Co-Morbidites.” J Acquir Immune Def Syndr. 2005, Vol 38, Suppl 1: S19
http://www.iasociety.org/Article.aspx?elementId=11977; Stringer et al, AIDS. 2009, 23:1377-1382
3  Baeten et al. 2003 J Acquir Immune Def Syndr, 2005, S18
4  Wang et al., 1999, JAIDS
http://www.avert.org/hiv-aids-africa.htm
6  Shah, I. 2003, J Acquir Immune Def Syndr, 2005
http://www.avert.org/thailand-aids-hiv.htm
http://www.prb.org/Countries/Thailand.aspx
http://www.searo.who.int/LinkFiles/Family_Planning_Fact_Sheets_thailand.pdf
10  http://apps.who.int/globalatlas/predefinedReports/EFS2006/EFS_PDFs/EFS2006_JP.pdf. (Homosexual men account for just over half of Japan's domestic HIV cases.)
11  http://www.wpro.who.int/countries/2009/phl/
12  Prakash et al. 2004; Prakash et al. 2002; Furth et al., 1990
13  Baeten et al. 2001; Cottingham et al. 1992; Avonts et al. 1990; Louv et al. 1989
14  Hunt et al. 1998; Zang et al. 2002; Gillgrass et al; 2003
15  http://www.iasociety.org/Article.aspx?elementId=10470; Baeten et al. 2007
16  Marx et al. 1996; Abel et al. 2004; Veazey et al. 2005
17  Baeten et al. 2001; Ghanem et al. 2005
18  Baeten et al. 2007; Critchlow et al. 1995; Louv et al. 1989; Plourde et al. 1994
19  Beaten et al. 2003; Poss et al. 1995; Long et al. 2000
20  Furth et al. 1990
21  Baeten et al. 2007, Clinical and Infectious Diseases, 360-361
22  Stringer et al. 2008
23  Wang et al. 2004; Mostad et al. 1997; Clemetson et al. 1993
24  Mauck, C. 2005, S11; Studies noted: Mati et al. 1995; Kapiga et al. 1998
25  JAMA. 2006; 296:2802

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A Planned Parenthood facility in Denver, Colorado
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Colorado judge tosses suit alleging Planned Parenthood used state funds to pay for abortions

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By Dustin Siggins

Alliance Defending Freedom "will likely appeal" a Monday court decision dismissing their suit alleging Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains illegally used state funds to pay for abortions, an ADF lawyer told LifeSiteNews.

The ADF lawsuit claims that $1.4 million went from state government agencies to a Planned Parenthood abortion affiliate through Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Denver County District Court Judge Andrew McCallin dismissed the case on the basis that ADF could not prove the funds paid for abortions. But ADF maintains that funding an abortion facility is indirectly paying for abortions, which violates state law.

ADF senior counsel Michael Norton -- whose wife, former Colorado Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, filed the lawsuit – told LifeSiteNews that "no one is above the law, including Colorado politicians who are violating our state’s constitution by continuing to fund Planned Parenthood’s abortion business with state taxpayer dollars."

"The State of Colorado even acknowledges that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate. The Denver court seems to have agreed with that fact and yet granted motions to dismiss based on a technicality," said Norton.

According to Colorado law, "no public funds shall be used by the State of Colorado, its agencies or political subdivisions to pay or otherwise reimburse, either directly or indirectly, any person, agency or facility for the performance of any induced abortion." There is a stipulation that allows for "the General Assembly, by specific bill, [to] authorize and appropriate funds to be used for those medical services necessary to prevent the death of either a pregnant woman or her unborn child under circumstances where every reasonable effort is made to preserve the life of each."

According to court documents, the Colorado law was affirmed by state voters in 1984, with an appeal attempt rejected two years later. In 2001, an outside legal firm hired by Jane Norton -- who was lieutenant governor at the time -- found that Planned Parenthood was "subsidizing rent" and otherwise providing financial assistance to Planned Parenthood Services Corporation, an abortion affiliate. After the report came out, and Planned Parenthood refused to disassociate itself from the abortion affiliate, the state government stopped funding Planned Parenthood.

Since 2009, however, that has changed, which is why the lawsuit is filed against Planned Parenthood, and multiple government officials, including Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

According to ADF legal counsel Natalie Decker, the fact that Planned Parenthood sent funds to the abortion affiliate should have convinced McCallin of the merits of the case. "The State of Colorado and the Denver court acknowledged that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars, in addition to millions of 'federal' tax dollars, flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate," said Decker.

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"Without even having the facts of the case developed, the Denver court seems to have granted motions to dismiss filed by the State of Colorado and Planned Parenthood on grounds the term 'indirectly' could not mean what Ms. Norton and Governor Owens said it meant in 2002 when they defunded Planned Parenthood."

"That, of course, is the plain meaning of Colo. Const., Art. V, § 50 which was implemented by the citizens of Colorado, and the reason for Ms. Norton’s lawsuit."

Decker told LifeSiteNews that "Colorado law is very clear," and that the state law "prohibits Colorado tax dollars from being used to directly or indirectly pay for induced abortions."

She says her client "has been denied the opportunity to fully develop the facts of the case and demonstrate exactly what the Colorado tax dollars have been used for." Similarly, says Decker, it is not known "exactly what those funds were used for. At this time, there is simply no way to conclude that tax dollars have not been used to directly pay for abortions or abortion inducing drugs and devices."

"What we do know is that millions of Colorado tax dollars have flowed through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate, which leads to the inescapable conclusion that those tax dollars are being used to indirectly pay for abortions."

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains did not return multiple requests for comment about the lawsuit.

The dismissal comes as Planned Parenthood fights an investigation by the state's Republican attorney general over a video by Live Action, as well as a lawsuit by a mother whose 13-year old daughter had an abortion in 2012 that she alleges was covered up by Planned Parenthood. The girl, who was being abused by her stepfather, was abused for months after the abortion.

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Steve Weatherbe

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Fledgling high-tech pro-life group marks 2,000 babies saved: 2-3 saved per day

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Online for Life, the Dallas-based pro-life marketing agency, saved its two-thousandth unborn baby earlier this year and is well on its way to saving its three thousandth by 2015.

“We are getting better all the time at what we do,” says founder Brian Fisher. “It used to be one baby saved every four to six weeks and now its two or three a day.”

But the most significant save? “It was the very first one,” he says, recalling the phone call from a crisis centre a month after OFL’s 2012 startup.  “And for me personally it was just a massive turning point … because [of] all the work and the money and testing and the volunteers and everything that led up to that moment. All the frustration of that was washed away in an instant because a child had been rescued that was about to be killed.”

Though increasing market savvy has led Online for Life to expand offline, the core of the non-profit, donor-financed operation remains SEO -- search engine optimization -- targeting young women who have just discovered they are pregnant and gone onto the Web to find the nearest abortion clinic.

Instead, they find the nearest crisis pregnancy center at the top of their results page. Since OFL went online it has linked with a network of 41 such centers, including two of its own it started this year, in a positive feedback loop that reinforces effective messaging first at the level of the Web, then at the first telephone call between the clinic and the pregnant woman, and finally at the first face-to-face meeting.

“Testing is crucial,” says Fisher. “We test everything we do.” Early on, Online for Life insisted the clinics it served have an ultrasound machine, because the prevailing wisdom in the prolife movement was that “once they saw their baby on ultrasound, they would drop the idea of having an abortion.” While the organization still insists on the ultrasound, its own testing and feedback from the CPCs indicates that three quarters of the women they see already have children. “They’ve already seen their own children on ultrasound and are still planning to abort.” So ultrasound images have lost their punch.

OFL has had to move offline to reach a significant minority who have neither computers, tablets, or cell phones.  Traditional electronic media spots as well as bus ads and billboards carry the message to them.

As well, says Fisher, “unwanted pregnancy used to be a high-school age problem; now that’s gone down in numbers and the average age of women seeking abortion has gone up to 24.” By that age, he says, they are “thoroughly conditioned by the abortion culture. Even before they got pregnant, they have already decided they would have an abortion if they did get pregnant.”

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What they need—and fast, in the first two minutes of the first phone call—is sympathy, support, and a complete absence of judgement. Online for Life is always gathering information from its network on what responses are most effective—and this can vary city to city. The organization offers training to clinic volunteers and staff that stresses a thorough knowledge of the services on tap. “Any major city has all sorts of services—housing, education, health—available,” says Fisher.

The problem that OFL was designed to address was the crisis pregnancy centers’ market penetration. Three percent of women with unwanted pregnancies were reaching out to the CPCs, and seven per cent of those who did reach out were having their babies. “So about 2.1 children were being saved for every 1,000 unwanted pregnancies,” says Fisher. “That’s not nearly enough.”

So Fisher and two fellow volunteers dreamed of applying online marketing techniques to the problem in 2009. Three years later Fisher was ready to leave his executive position at an online marketing agency to go full-time with the life-saving agency. Now they have 63 employees, most of them devoted to optimizing the penetration in each of the markets served by their participating crisis centers.

The results speak for themselves. Where OFL has applied its techniques, especially with its own clinics, as many as 15-18 percent of the targeted population of women seeking abortions get directed to nearby crisis pregnancy centers. “It depends on the centres’ budgets and on how many volunteers they have to be on the phones through the day and night,” he says. “But we are going to push it higher. We hope to save our 2,500th child by the end of the year.”

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Shock: UK mom abandons disabled daughter, keeps healthy son after twin surrogacy

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By Pete Baklinski

A UK woman who is the biological mother of twins born from a surrogate mom, has allegedly abandoned one of the children because she was born with a severe muscular condition, while taking the girl's healthy sibling home with her.

The surrogate mother, also from the UK — referred to as "Jenny" to protect her identity — revealed to The Sun the phone conversation that took place between herself and the biological mother over the fate of the disabled girl.

“I remember her saying to me, “She’d be a f****** dribbling cabbage! Who would want to adopt her? No one would want to adopt a disabled child,’” she said.

Jenny, who has children of her own, said she decided to become a surrogate to “help a mother who couldn’t have children.” She agreed to have two embryos implanted in her womb and to give birth for £12,000 ($20,000 USD).

With just six weeks to the due date, doctors told Jenny she needed an emergency caesarean to save the babies. It was not until a few weeks after the premature births that the twin girl was diagnosed with congenital myotonic dystrophy.

When Jenny phoned the biological mother to tell her of the girl’s condition, the mother rejected the girl.

Jenny has decided along with her partner to raise the girl. They have called her Amy.

“I was stunned when I heard her reject Amy,” Jenny said. “She had basically told me that she didn’t want a disabled child.”

Jenny said she felt “very angry” towards the girl’s biological parents. "I hate them for what they did.”

The twins are now legally separated. A Children and Family Court has awarded the healthy boy to the biological mother and the disabled girl to her surrogate.

The story comes about two weeks after an Australian couple allegedly abandoned their surrogate son in Thailand after he was born with Down syndrome, while taking the healthy twin girl back with them to Australia.

Rickard Newman, director of Family Life, Pro-Life & Child and Youth Protection in the Diocese of Lake Charles, called the Australian story a “tragedy” that “results from a marketplace that buys and sells children.”

“Third-party reproduction is a prism for violations against humanity. IVF and the sperm trade launched a wicked industry that now includes abortion, eugenics, human trafficking, and deliberate family fragmentation,” he said. 

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