ECHO Trial Commentary

The long-awaited results of the Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV Outcomes (ECHO) trial, a rigorous, three-year clinical study designed to resolve if using Depo Provera (DMPA-IM) increases women and adolescent girls’ risk of HIV, are now available. Nearly 8,000 women from four eastern and southern African countries with high incidence of HIV ‒ Eswatini, Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia – participated in the study. The question of a link between Depo and HIV has persisted for more than 25 years; ECHO’s evidence proves otherwise. Let’s state that again: The use of Depo does not increase a woman’s risk of acquiring HIV. This comes as a huge relief for women and programs in high HIV-prevalence settings that rely on Depo as their method of contraception. Moreover, the study also found the Levonorgestrel implant and a copper-bearing IUD, also do not increase the risk of HIV infection. All three of these methods, when provided effectively and used consistently, are effective, safe, and acceptable options for preventing pregnancy.