Because of the need for condoms to be used properly every time to prevent pregnancy, you may want to use another form of contraception as well.
Several anti-HIV drugs and antibiotics interfere with the way some hormonal contraceptives work, and the contraceptive may not be as effective as usual. Getting advice on possible drug interactions from your doctor or pharmacist is important.
These contraceptives are less effective if you’re taking HIV treatment:
• the combined pill
• the progestogen-only pill, also known as the mini-pill
• patches – a small beige patch applied to the skin like a sticky plaster that is changed once a week
• implants – a small flexible rod that is inserted under the skin on the upper part of the arm, and works for up to three years
• vaginal rings – a small flexible ring that is inserted in the vagina for three weeks of the month.
Diaphragms and caps are flexible rubber or silicone dome-shaped devices which are placed in the vagina each time you have sex. They are not recommended for women with HIV, as they should be used with a substance called a spermicide that can irritate the vagina.
Several types of contraceptives are not affected by anti-HIV drugs. They are the intrauterine device (IUD), the Mirena intrauterine system (IUS) and the Depo-Provera contraceptive injection.
None of these methods prevent the transmission of HIV or other STIs.
A number of other medications (e.g. antibiotics) interact with hormonal contraceptives, so getting advice on drug interactions from your HIV doctor or pharmacist is important. During the period you are taking any antibiotics, and for a week after, you are recommended to use an additional form of contraception if you are using a hormonal contraceptive.
The National Health Service (NHS) provides free access to contraception for everyone, regardless of immigration status. They provide detailed information about the different types of contraception listed above. Contraception is available from general practitioners (GPs), and from sexual health or contraception clinics. Details of local clinics are available from NHS Direct (0845 46 47) or from the FPA.