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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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The first pro-abortion Republican enters the 2016 presidential race

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By Ben Johnson

EXETER, NH, May 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The large and expanding field of would-be Republican presidential candidates grew by one today, as George Pataki became the first GOP presidential hopeful this election season to openly support abortion-on-demand.

The 69-year-old long-shot candidate also has a history of supporting homosexual legislative causes.

In the weeks leading up to his formal announcement, George Pataki took out TV ads asking Republicans to refrain from talking about abortion and gay “marriage,” branding them “distractions.”

“In 12 years [as governor], I don’t think I talked about that issue twice,” he once said of abortion.

On same-sex “marriage,” he says, “I think, leave it to the states. I don’t think it’s a role in Washington.”

However, Pataki has a long history of enacting the homosexual political agenda as governor of New York from 1994-2006. He signed a “hate crimes” law that added the words “gay” and “lesbian” to New York state law for the first time.

He signed the Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination Act (SONDA), which prohibits business owners from “discriminating” against homosexuals in housing or hiring, with an exemption only for religious institutions.

He also added sexual orientation to state civil rights laws, alongside such immutable characteristics as race and sex, in an apparent quid pro quo for a gay activist group's endorsement in his last run for governor. The New York Times reported that, under pressure from Pataki, the then-Senate Majority Leader “shifted his position on the bill as part of what is tacitly acknowledged, even by Senator [Joseph] Bruno's senior aides, to have been a deal to win an endorsement for Governor Pataki from the state's largest gay rights group, the Empire State Pride Agenda.”

After the LGBT activist group endorsed Pataki in 2002, citing a long list of his service to the homosexual political cause, Pataki personally lobbied senators for the bill's passage, then signed it into law that December.

Coupled with his stance on gun control, environmentalism, and other issues, he stands well to the left of the Republican mainstream.

The three-term governor of New York, who belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, took his own advice by largely avoiding social issues today. The closest he came was his vow, “I'd repeal oppressive laws like ObamaCare and end Common Core.”

He added that he would “fire every current IRS employee abusing government power to discriminate on the basis of politics or religion. That is not America!”

Otherwise, Pataki's announcement speech hewed to stand pat Republican issues like reducing taxes, shrinking the number of federal employees, increasing military spending, and supporting entrepreneurship.

He began by thanking his supporters, in English and Spanish.

Smiling, his head pivoting between twin teleprompters, he said, “Let me tell you some of the things I'd do right away to get oppressive government off the backs of Americans.”

He would institute a lifetime ban on congressmen acting as lobbyists after they leave office. “If you ever served one day in Congress, you will never be a lobbyist,” he said. He favors forcing Congress to live under the laws it passes, so there will be “no special rules for the powerful.”

He cited his history of cutting taxes, reducing welfare rolls, and leaving his state with billions of dollars in surplus. “That's what our policies can do,” he said. “I know we can do the same thing for the United States.”

In recent weeks, he has called for a more interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East. Today, he reminded his audience that he was governor of New York in 9/11. “I will not fear the lesson of September 11,” he said. “To protect us, first we must protect the border,” he said – an unexpected phrase, as Pataki supports amnesty for the at least 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States.

“We will stand with our ally, Israel, a democracy on the front lines of terror and barbarism,” he said.

Like former Sen. Rick Santorum, who announced he is running for president yesterday, Pataki agreed that “if necessary, American forces will be used to actually defeat and destroy ISIS on the ground” – although he promised not to become “the world's policeman.”

Some of his campaign promises drew skepticism, such as seeking to develop self-driving cars and to cure Alzheimer's disease and cancer within the next decade.

The speech's venue was chosen deliberately by Pataki, who considered entering the presidential race in 2000, 2008, and 2012. The town of Exeter, New Hampshire, claims to be the founding place of the Republican Party. (Ripon, Wisconsin, makes a similar claim.)

More importantly, the first-in-the-nation primary skews more libertarian on social issues than evangelical-dominated Iowa and South Carolina, so Pataki has essentially staked his candidacy on doing well in New Hampshire. Fellow pro-abortion Republican Rudy Giuliani made a similar bet in 2008, banking on a good showing among transplanted New Yorkers in the Florida primary. He left the race after finishing a distant third.

Short of a stunning upset in the Granite State, Pataki has little chance of breaking through the pack this year. A Fox News poll ranks him dead last among 16 announced and potential candidates. Holly Bailey of Yahoo! News said, “George Pataki would never say this, but you do have to wonder if he's sort of, maybe, gaming for vice president.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

Pataki is not the first “pro-choice” Republican to run for president.  Giuliani (who supported partial birth abortion) and Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (another potential 2016 candidate, who supports abortion during the first trimester) ran in 2008. Twelve years earlier, both California Gov. Pete Wilson and Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter supported abortion-on-demand. Arlen Specter later left the party and became a Democrat.

In 1988, General Alexander Haig opposed a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So did Texas Gov. John Connally in 1980.

George H.W. Bush supported abortion and voted for Planned Parenthood funding early in his career but changed his position by the time he ran for president the second time, in 1988.

President Gerald Ford was the last Republican nominee to proclaim himself “pro-choice.” 

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Ireland ‘defied God’ by voting for gay ‘marriage’: Cardinal Burke

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By Pete Baklinski

OXFORD, May 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Cardinal Raymond Burke lamented how formerly Catholic Ireland has gone further than the pagans in the pre-Christian days of old and “defied God” by calling homosexual behavior “marriage” in the referendum last week.

“I mean, this is a defiance of God. It’s just incredible. Pagans may have tolerated homosexual behaviours, they never dared to say this was marriage,” he told the Newman Society, Oxford University’s Catholic organization, in an address Wednesday about the intellectual heritage of Pope Benedict XVI. The Tablet, Britain’s liberal Catholic newspaper, reported his remarks.

On Friday, 1.2 million Irish people voted to amend the country’s constitution to say: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” A little over 734,000 people voted against the proposal. 

Burke said that he could not understand “any nation redefining marriage.”

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The cardinal also emphasized the important role that parents play in protecting their children in a culture increasingly hostile to God’s laws. “The culture is thoroughly corrupted, if I may say so, and the children are being exposed to this, especially through the internet,” he said. One practical piece of advice that he offered families was to put computers in public areas to prevent children from “imbib[ing] this poison that’s out there.”

During the same Oxford visit, but during a homily at a Mass the day before, Burke called marriage between a man and woman a “fundamental truth” that has been “ignored, defied, and violated.”

Burke warned during the homily of the dangers of “various ideological currents” and of “human deception and trickery which strives to lead us into error.”

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Why young Christians can’t grasp our arguments against gay ‘marriage’

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By John Stonestreet

May 28, 2015 (BreakPoint.org) -- For five years, Dr. Abigail Rine has been teaching a course on gender theory at George Fox University, an evangelical school in the Quaker tradition.

At the beginning of the semester, she tells her students that “they are guaranteed to read something they will find disagreeable, probably even offensive.”

Writing at FirstThings.com recently, she related how five years ago it was easy to find readings that challenged and even offended the evangelical college students “considering the secular bent of contemporary gender studies.”

But today, things are different. “Students now,” she says, “arrive in my class thoroughly versed in the language and categories of identity politics; they are reticent to disagree with anything for fear of seeming intolerant—except, of course, what they perceive to be intolerant.”

And what do they find “intolerant”? Well, in her class, an essay entitled “What is Marriage?” by Sherif Girgis, Robert George, and Ryan Anderson, which was the beginning of the book “What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense.”

In their article, Girgis, George, and Anderson defend what they call the conjugal view of marriage. “Marriage,” they write, “is the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other … that is naturally fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together.” They defend this view against what they call the “revisionist view” of marriage, which redefines marriage to include, among other things, same-sex couples.

“My students hate it,” Dr. Rine wrote. They “lambast the article.” “They also,” she adds, “seem unable to fully understand the argument.” And again, these are evangelical students at an evangelical school.

The only argument for conjugal marriage they’ve ever encountered has been the wooden proof-texting from the Bible. And besides, wrote Rine, “What the article names as a ‘revisionist’ idea of marriage—marriage as an emotional, romantic, sexual bond between two people—does not seem ‘new’ to my students at all, because this is the view of marriage they were raised with, albeit with a scriptural, heterosexual gloss.”

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As Rine points out “the redefinition of marriage began decades ago” when “the link between sexuality and procreation was severed in our cultural imagination.”

And if marriage “has only an arbitrary relationship to reproduction,” then it seems mean-spirited to Rine’s students to argue that marriage by its very nature excludes same-sex couples.

And where do students get the idea that marriage “has only an arbitrary relationship to reproduction”? Well, everywhere—television, church, school, their homes, in youth groups.

Rine writes, “As I consider my own upbringing and the various ‘sex talks’ I encountered in evangelical church settings over the past twenty years, I realize that the view of marital sex presented there was primarily revisionist.”

In other words, once you say, “I do,” you get “the gift” of sex which is presented as “a ‘gift’ largely due to its [erotic], unitive properties, rather than its intrinsic capacity to create life.” Even in the Church, children have become an optional add-on to married life rather than its primary purpose.

What can we do to win back our children, our churches, and the culture? In our recent book “Same Sex Marriage,” Sean McDowell and I lay out a game plan. We offer strategies for the short-term and the long-term, with the ultimate goal: re-shaping the cultural imagination towards what God intended marriage to be, starting with the church. Come to BreakPoint.org to pick up your copy.

As Chuck Colson once said in a BreakPoint commentary about marriage, “We Christians are very good at saying ‘No.’ But we’ve got to get better at saying ‘Yes’: showing how God’s plan for humanity is a blessing. That His ways, including faithful, life-giving marriage between one man and one woman, lead to human flourishing physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Reprinted with permission from Break Point.

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