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Medical Research: Kenyan Women On Contraceptive Are Prone To STIs

According to a new study seen by The Kenyan Bulletin indicate that women on long-acting contraceptives recorded higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, compared to the general population.

According to the study, a high number of women in the study who went for modern family planning methods had gonorrhoea and chlamydia. The study was done in four African countries, Kenya included.

The reason, the study states, is that long-acting contraceptives do not require repeated health-care visits and are probably the most convenient preventive modalities.

In Kenya, 900 women in Kisumu took part in the study, locally coordinated by the Kenya Medical Research Institute. It was meant to establish whether the use of hormonal contraception, particularly Depo, may increase women’s risk of HIV acquisition.

The Echo trial included sexually active, HIV-negative women aged 16-35 years, seeking effective contraceptives and willing to be randomly assigned one of the three hormonal contraceptive methods.

Women were followed for 12-18 months across nine sites in SA, three in Kenya, eSwatini and Zambia.

The open-label clinical trial conducted compared HIV risk women on the three most commonly used methods of hormonal contraception: the DMPA-IM shot, a copper intrauterine device (IUD) and a levonorgestrel (LNG) implant.

According to the findings, chlamydia infection was 18 per cent at baseline (start of the study) and 15 per cent at last visit. Overall, gonorrhoea stood at five per cent; this is despite treatment during follow-up visits.

“There is lack of progress in stopping the spread of STIs worldwide. This is a wake-up call for those concerned. We should ensure everyone, everywhere can access the services needed to prevent and treat these debilitating diseases,” Dr Peter Salama, the executive director for Universal Health Coverage and the Life-Course at WHO, said.

STIs seem to have been forgotten. There are women participating in clinical trials and have access to treatment, yet STI prevalence is still high. Experts recommended STI testing should now be offered at family planning clinics.

“We must be careful we don’t turn family planning solely into HIV prevention services.” Dr James Kiarie, coordinator of WHO’s human reproduction team, said.