FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 26 July 2019
Contact: Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng +27 (0)82 706 8003 (Johannesburg phone & Whatsapp)
Rev. Phumzile Mabizela +27 (0)82648 7354 (Johannesburg phone & Whatsapp)
Yvette Raphael +27(0)76 612 7704 (Washington phone & Whatsapp)
Over 60 Global Leaders Representing 12 Countries Demand WHO act on Critical Concerns Around Depo-Provera and Increased HIV Risk
Over sixty leaders on sexual and reproductive health rights from twelve African countries demand WHO to act on three key concerns about the Trial on HIV risk from the contraceptive Depo-Provera. The leaders include medical doctors, Reverends and Rabi’s, HIV activists, public health educators, and a member of the Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV Outcomes, ECHO Trial, Global Community Advisory Group.
The open letter outlines three key requests in advance of the of global health organisation’s Guideline Development Group, GDG meeting Monday-Wednesday next week.
1. That the WHO provide more time to the GDG, African Health authorities, civil society and scholars to consider the relevance of new epidemiological, and biological evidence, including the recently announced findings from the ECHO randomised clinical trial for policy.
2. That the GDG demand transparency from ECHO researchers on their trial. In particular on how a 50% increased risk was determined as an appropriate margin – and by whom. And further that the GDG determine if this margin is still ‘clinically relevant’, and if it ever was?
3. That extensive discussion takes place at the GDG on what is meant by ‘high-risk’ women to determine how, and if the ECHO Trial’s ‘calculated effect size of potential increased risk of 30%’ is valuable enough to inform global guidelines.
“We have come together with a unified demand articulated in our open letter to the WHO (attached). If there is any indication that we could find a more clearer answer to the question about Depo-Provera and HIV acquisition I support that work and believe it must be pursued. The majority of Depo-Provera users are Africans. Policy guidelines from WHO on the increased risk of HIV from hormonal contraceptive use need to carefully consider our health and well-being”. Yvette Raphael, an ECHO Trial Global Community Advisory Group member.
“The limited interrogation of the design of the ECHO study by WHO to date shows a lack of concern for high rates of HIV infection and lack of access to safe contraception. It is clear to us that for African women and girls, it has been decided that pregnancy is worse than an HIV infection. This must end today.” Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng.
“The ECHO consortium designed a study that could only measure a 50% increase in HIV risk from using the contraception Depo-Provera. –Rather than measuring an individual’s risk – and then claims the study findings show no increased risk of HIV. To us, this shows African’s well-being was not considered. The WHO GDG must ensure our need for truthful information, and policy which protects us from a hazard is taken seriously”. Rev Phumzile Mabizela, Executive Director of The International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV, INERELA+ which operates in 18 countries, and 3 continents.