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The Pill’s Deadly Affair with HIV/AIDS

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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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For Hillary Clinton, abortion access trumps religious liberty

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By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- For Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, apparently abortion trumps religious liberty.

It may have gotten bipartisan support in the House of Representatives last night, but a spokesperson for the Democratic Party's leading presidential candidate says a resolution protecting religious liberty in the District of Columbia "overrule[s] the democratic process" and hurts women.

The vote, which saw three Democrats join the GOP majority and 13 Republicans stand with Democrats, was meant to protect pro-life and religious organizations in the District from the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA).

RHNDA was signed by the mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser, in January, and makes it illegal for any employer, including religious and pro-life organizations, to use a person's belief or actions about abortion in employment considerations. It also requires employers to provide abortion coverage.

The resolution now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to fail due to the Senate being on recess. Under existing federal law, the measure has 30 legislative days to be disapproved by Congress and President Obama. If this does not happen, it becomes law.

The 30-day window ends on Saturday. President Obama promised a veto of the resolution on Thursday, even though RHNDA was opposed by former District mayor Vincent Gray. According to Gray, while he "applaud[s] the goals of this legislation," the former mayor believes RHNDA could violate the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal treatment under the law.

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The statement by the Clinton campaign left no doubt that she stood with Obama and a majority of Democratic legislators. Spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri told CNN, "Hillary Clinton has fought for women and families and their right to access the full range of reproductive health care without interference from politicians or employers."

"Hillary will fight to make it easier, not more difficult, for women and families to get ahead and ensure that women are not discriminated against for personal medical decisions."

The remarks come a week after Clinton took criticism for saying that "religious beliefs" critical of "reproductive rights" must "be changed."

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” she told the Women in the World Summit on April 23.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper," said Clinton in her speech. "Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will."

“Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed,” said the candidate.

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Social conservatives may be funding the destruction of marriage: corporate watchdog

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By Dustin Siggins

May 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- With over $55 million in annual revenue, the Human Rights Campaign may be America's most powerful LGBT activist group. And according to a conservative corporate watchdog, that's in part because social conservatives are funding it.

"Conservatives would be surprised to know that many of the dollars they spend every day are helping fund an agenda that seeks to destroy traditional marriage and undermine religious freedoms," said 2nd Vote National Outreach Director Robert Kuykendall. "Even when they purchase a beverage from a company like Coca-cola or Starbucks, their dollar is going to support HRC's liberal agenda to redefine marriage."

Less than 18 months old, 2nd Vote has graded hundreds of corporations on six issues -- corporate welfare, the environment, education, support for the Second Amendment, abortion, and as of two weeks ago, same-sex "marriage." Using their "scoring" system, 2nd Vote ranks corporations on their direct or indirect involvement with these hot-button public policy and cultural issues.

And according to them, some of America's favorite corporations are making the radical HRC agenda possible.

"HRC is the largest LGBT lobbying organization in the United States with reported revenues of over $55 million," Kuykendall told LifeSiteNews. "The redefinition of marriage and the undermining of religious freedom are major components of HRC’s policy agenda. To fund their policy goals, HRC has enlisted the help of many major corporations that we do business with every day to help fund. Over a third of the contributions received by HRC are listed as 'Corporate/Foundation Grants.'" 

Why should conservatives care about corporate donors to HRC? Kuykendall says the organization is both politically influential and publicly deceptive. "Last election cycle, HRC spent around a million dollars on electioneering activities and in support of liberal candidates willing to push their legislative agenda. HRC is responsible for spreading much of the misinformation regarding [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] laws and has also mischaracterized the protections provided by these laws."

"HRC organized a massive grassroots campaign in support of the legal battle to overturn state laws protecting marriage and influence the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges," said Kuykendall.

Marriage isn't the only issue on which conservatives may be at odds with HRC's corporate backers. "2nd Vote’s research into other issues such as life, the environment, and the 2nd Amendment shows that many of the companies supporting HRC have taken liberal stands on other issues as well,” he said. “For example, Apple, Citigroup, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola are Platinum Partners, the highest level of HRC’s National Corporate Partners, that have also funded the liberal Center for American Progress [CAP]."

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"Bank of America, Google, Goldman Sachs, Starbucks, PepsiCo, and Morgan Stanley are also HRC Corporate Partners that have funded CAP. Furthermore, all of these companies signed the amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn state marriage laws."

In Indiana, the state's religious liberty law was modified because of corporate pressure led by Tim Cook, Apple's gay CEO. Kuykendall says conservatives should not give up, though he acknowledges that "for too long, conservatives have let liberals and groups like HRC bully companies into not just going along with their agenda, but actively funding and promoting it."

"However, conservatives have also proven their ability to mobilize and use their dollars in support of traditional values as we’ve seen through the fundraising campaigns for the pizza parlor and wedding cake makers who have been attacked by liberals for their beliefs. Conservatives need to turn the tables on the left, and groups like HRC, and motivate companies to stop funding the liberal agenda through the power of their shopping habits."

Only nine companies have ranks of "five" or "four" on 2nd Vote's ranking system, indicating a pro-marriage perspective. They are outnumbered more than 10 to 1 by organizations that support redefining marriage.

Concerned citizens can download the app on 2nd Vote's website. The full list of corporation scores can be found here.

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First graders exposed to book about transgender boy—without parental notification

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By Fr. Mark Hodges

KITTERY POINT, ME, May 1, 2015, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Parents at one Maine school are upset that children as young as six were exposed to a book promoting transgender issues, in the name of "acceptance."

Parents were not only not consulted, they were never even notified of their children's exposure to transgenderism.

Horace Mitchell Primary School read the book I Am Jazz to first-grade students. The book is about a boy who identifies as a girl from the age of two, "with a boy's body and a girl's brain." He eventually finds a doctor who tells his parents, "Jazz is transgender."

Parents began to inquire about what was being taught at Horace Mitchell Primary after children came home with questions about their own sex and wondering if they, too, might be transgender.

One mother, upset that teachers would broach the subject of transgenderism with her little boy, said the primary school ignored her complaint. "I feel like my thoughts, feelings and beliefs were completely ignored...My right as a parent to allow or not allow this discussion with my child was taken from me," she told Hannity.com.

"When I spoke with the principal he was very cold about it," the mother continued. "It's amazing how thoughtless the school has been with this whole thing."

Only after Sean Hannity made national inquiries did Horace Mitchell Primary School suggest that teachers should have told parents ahead of time.

Allyn Hutton, the superintendent of the local district, said she supported reading the book but admitted that parents should have been given advance warning about the subject matter. "We have a practice of – if a topic is considered sensitive – parents should be informed. In this situation, that didn't happen," she said. "We understand that toleration is tolerating people of all opinions."

Horace Mitchell Primary School sent an e-mail, after the fact, to concerned parents, including a link to a blog post of the school's guidance counselor, explaining their motivation was "cultivating respect."

"Some may think primary school students are too young to worry about addressing issues surrounding gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) students. Not so, experts say,” the school's guidance counselor wrote. “It’s never too early to begin teaching children about respecting differences."

Homosexual activists say they support the teaching of transgenderism to first-graders, with or without parental notification. "The staff of Mitchell School is...shedding a light on [LGBTQ] issues,” said a column in Gay Star News.

The LGBT puublication goes even further, advocating homosexual propaganda be commonplace in elementary schools across the country. "LGBTQ issues should never be classified as a 'sensitive subject,' [because] there is nothing sensitive about the way we are born. Blonde hair, brown hair, gay, straight or somewhere in-between."

Brian Camenker of MassResistance commented on the infiltration of homosexual propaganda in children's schools. "We deal with parents and teachers a lot, and the idea that teachers would do this is unconscionable. It's like the people that promote this stuff are evil. It's demonic. You can't imagine adults that would do this to other people's children, and do it with such anger, and such vitrol.”

Camenker emphasized that this is “not an isolated incident with just one, rogue teacher. This happens because the whole administrative hierarchy buys into it.”

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“The new generation of educators is very, very frightening,” he said.

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