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Could free birth control have global consequences?

July 21, 2011 | 11:44 am

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 ...

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-- Alexandra Le Tellier

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

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