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Could free birth control have global consequences?

Birth Control

Well, this makes things tricky. There's a new study that finds a link between hormone-based birth control and HIV. According to the research, which is distilled on our Booster Shots blog, the chances of contracting HIV are nearly doubled for women on the pill.

This comes on the heels of a proposal put forth Tuesday by an independent panel of doctors and health experts calling for some free preventive healthcare for women. Birth control would be among the freebies. "Many experts see preventing unwanted pregnancies as critical to women's and babies' health, as women with unwanted pregnancies are less likely to receive prenatal care and engage in unsafe behaviors such as drinking and smoking," writes Noam N. Levey from our Washington bureau.

So, how do you reconcile advocating for one preventive measure when it can lead to another costly health risk? And not just any health risk -- but a virus that causes a deadly disease of epidemic proportions. On one hand, it's easier to get pregnant than to contract HIV, so it makes sense to provide birth control to women. On the other hand, getting pregnant isn't a death sentence, nor does it have global consequences. If only the answer were as easy as using condoms. Oh, wait ...


Sex in the time of AIDS

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AIDS: After 30 years, battle is far from over

Generic drug ruling leaves out consumers

Public health: Not vaccinated? Not acceptable

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Birth control pills. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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