Assessing the Potential Impact of Hormonal-Based Contraceptives on HIV Transmission Dynamics Among Heterosexuals

Noble J Malunguza, Senelani D Hove-Musekwa, Zindoga Mukandavire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


HIV susceptibility linked to hormonal contraception (HC) has been studied before, but with mixed results. Reports from some of the recent findings have prompted the World Health Organisation to encourage women who use HC to concurrently use condoms in order to prevent HIV infection in the light of possible increased HIV risk of infection associated with hormone-based contraceptives. A two-sex HIV model classifying women into three risk groups consisting of individuals who use condoms, natural methods, and hormone-based contraceptives is formulated and analysed to assess the possible effects of various birth control strategies on the transmission dynamics of the disease. Our model results showed that women who use HC could be key drivers of the epidemic and that their increased infectivity may be critical in driving the epidemic. Women who use hormone-based contraceptives potentially act as a core group from which men get infected and in turn transmit the disease to other population groups. We fitted the model to HIV prevalence data for Zimbabwe reported by UNAIDS and Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Care and used the model fit to project HIV prevalence. Predictions using HIV data for Zimbabwe suggest that a hypothesised increase in susceptibility and infectivity of two-, three-, and fourfold would result in a 25, 50, and 100% increase in baseline HIV prevalence projection, respectively, thus suggesting possible increased disease burden even in countries reporting plausible HIV prevalence declines. Although a possible causal relationship between HIV susceptibility and HC use remains subject of continuing scientific probe, its inclusion as part of birth control strategy has been shown in this study, to possibly increase HIV transmission. If proven, HC use may potentially explain the inordinate spread of HIV within the sub-Saharan Africa region and therefore compel for urgent assessment with a view to reorienting birth control methods in use in settings with generalised epidemics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-771
Number of pages34
JournalBulletin of Mathematical Biology
Issue number4
Early online date3 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Condoms
  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Female
  • HIV Infections
  • Heterosexuality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Zimbabwe
  • Journal Article


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