Journalists have a critical role in covering the ECHO Study results. This page includes the latest news, key resources, and a calendar of events for reporters, writers, and influencers to get up-to-date information and tell a complete story about the ECHO Study, hormonal contraception, and HIV acquisition.
- What is the ECHO Study?
- Who do the ECHO Study results impact?
- Why should journalists cover this news?
- How can media tell this story?
Access to family planning saves lives – millions of lives worldwide. Modern methods of contraception such as injections, intrauterine devices, and implants enable women to avoid or delay pregnancy.
The World Health Organization (WHO) periodically assesses the safety of each contraceptive method and assigns a medical eligibility criteria (MEC) for contraceptive use category of risk. Category 1 is the lowest risk category and category 4 is the highest risk category. ue to a lack of evidence, the safety of certain hormonal contraceptive methods for women at high risk for HIV infection has been uncertain. In 2015, the Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV Outcomes (ECHO) trial began with the objective of testing the comparative risk of HIV acquisition among women using one of the following three contraceptive methods: a progestogen-only injectable (Depo-Medroxyprogesterone Acetate intramuscular (DMPA-IM)), a levonorgestrel implant (Jadelle) or a non-hormonal copper IUD. The study followed over 7,800 women in four countries over three years. The trial was run to exceptionally high standards and all contraceptive methods tested in ECHO safe and effective for millions of women and will remain so, regardless of the trial results.
The ECHO Study results were released on June 13, 2019 at a late-breaker session at the South Africa AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. The clinical trial found no substantial difference in HIV risk among DMPA-IM, copper IUD, and LNG implant users. Guidance from the WHO on the MEC category for each contraceptive method used in the study is expected in August 2019.
ECHO Study results impact women at high risk of HIV. As the primary user of hormonal contraception, a woman decides whether to adopt a contraceptive method and which methods to use. She must have the information, knowledge, and ability to make the best choices for herself about her health, including her sexual and reproductive choices. This decision affects her own health as well as the health of her children.
Those who counsel women, provide health services for women, and advocate for women’s sexual and reproductive health rights should also take note of the results andWHO’s contraceptive guidance. Health program staff must provide accurate family planning information to their patients. Government officials and policymakers must anticipate and respond to their population’s contraceptive use and expand access to a broad range of methods as well as HIV prevention technologies, such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Advocates must keep stakeholders accountable for the health of women and children.
Because the WHO’s contraceptive guidance is used worldwide, results from the ECHO Study and WHO’s subsequent guidance are highly anticipated in multiple fields of health, especially family planning and HIV. This news fills a critical information gap and will influence health program implementation, government action plans, advocacy messages around women and their health rights, as well as the scientific community.
Journalism is the main source of communication to the public. News audiences, including women, will be looking to their preferred media sources for information that they can understand and use. If news outlets do not provide the proper coverage, misinformation could reduce confidence in contraceptive options and lead to preventable high-risk pregnancies. High-quality reporting can help improve the health of women and children.
Modern Methods are Safe and Do Not Increase Risk for HIV Acquisition
The results show that none of the methods have an increased risk, so women can be confident in choosing any method according to their lifestyle and preferences. Media is encouraged to inform the public that benefits outweigh the risks for all three methods and that no method protects against HIV. Therefore women and men should also use condoms. Personal stories of women finding their family planning solution can be powerful in communicating the safety of modern methods of contraception.
Resources are ordered by date, most recent first.
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The Results 4 Informed Choice Photo Bank is an effort to provide users with ready access to relevant and appropriate images for communication and advocacy around the ECHO trial. The collection includes photos from actual international health and development work related to HIV, family planning, education, counseling, and contraception in a variety of contexts. Some photos are available for direct download - please ALWAYS credit photographers, regardless of the format of your materials.