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UCT study links common contraceptive to rise in TB risk

UCT's Professor Keertan Dheda and Dr Michele Tomasicchio have been researching the link between Depo-Provera and TB for three years.

Injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera. Picture: www.news.uct.ac.za.

CAPE TOWN - A breakthrough study conducted at the University of Cape Town (UCT) has found that a commonly used injectable contraceptive could potentially increase the risk of tuberculosis (TB).

Professor Keertan Dheda and Dr Michele Tomasicchio based at the institution’s Centre for Lung Infection and Immunity have been researching the link between Depo-Provera and TB for three years.

Dheda said although the increased risk had not officially been proven yet, it opened the door for further research.

Some 16,5 million women in sub-Saharan African rely on this injection which is administered every three months.

“We used human blood and extracted the immune cell, we infected them with live TB bugs, we then tested contraceptives, and what we found is Depo-Provera subvert the protected human response against TB. In fact, it prevented human cells from killing TB.”

TB continues to be the country’s leading underlying natural cause of death.

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