News & Views

Population Briefs

Identifying the HIV Risk and Sexual Health Needs of Men Who Have Sex with Men in Africa

The Landscape

In developed countries, it has long been recognized that men who have sex with men (MSM) are at high risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, in Africa, the stigma associated with homosexual behavior—and the fact that it is illegal in some countries—have kept the health needs of MSM largely hidden. As a result, health systems have lacked vital information for creating effective programs and policies that meet the health needs of this at-risk population.

Read more

Population Briefs

Developing Microbicides to Combat HIV Transmission

The Landscape

In the 1980s, at the beginning of the HIV epidemic, AIDS was thought to be primarily a “gay male” disease, and many people wrongly believed that women were not at risk. But just ten years later, the number of infections among women was as high as that among men in sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV was predominantly transmitted through heterosexual sex.

Prevention efforts at the time focused on abstinence or monogamy, treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and condom use. But for many women, social, cultural, and economic inequalities severely limited their ability to protect themselves from infection.

Read more

Population Briefs

Advancing Long-Acting Reversible Contraception

Advancing Long-Acting Reversible Contraception

The Population Council developed the copper T IUD, one of the most effective and cost-effective contraceptive methods available today.

The Landscape

The first modern IUDs were developed in the early 1900s, but had many shortcomings. Women who used them experienced pain and heavy bleeding, and the devices were often expelled from the uterus. The Population Council began contraceptive research in 1956 and was the first organization to recognize the potential of the IUD to be a better, more effective contraceptive method. The Council invested significantly in new research and product development to achieve that potential.

Read more

Population Briefs

Shaping Abortion Reform in Mexico City

Shaping Abortion Reform in Mexico City

Research undertaken by the Population Council in Mexico played an important part in the passage of the landmark 2007 reform to decriminalize early abortion in Mexico City.

The Landscape

Before 2007, all Mexican states permitted abortions in cases of rape, and nearly all permitted the procedure to save a mother’s life. In practice, however, it was nearly impossible for women in these circumstances to access abortion because of rigid bureaucracy and long delays.

Read more

Population Briefs

Using Research to Improve Programs

Using Research to Improve Programs
The Landscape

Global health programs, such as those to improve access to family planning services or reduce transmission of HIV, can succeed or fail for a variety of reasons. Some factors, such as civil unrest or monsoon rains, are beyond a program manager’s control. Managers have the ability to change other factors, however, such as staff training and supply logistics. But before the 1980s, there was no standard, evidence-based process to help program managers improve systems by identifying service-delivery problems and testing solutions.

Read more

Population Briefs

Bringing to Light the Hazards of Smoking When Using the Pill

Bringing to Light the Hazards of Smoking When Using the Pill

In 1977, Population Council researcher Anrudh K. Jain illuminated the increased risk of death for women who smoke heavily and use oral contraceptives.

The Landscape

Before Jain’s analysis, it was thought that use of oral contraceptives greatly increased the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death among women over 40. The FDA had proposed guidance to physicians that “the use of oral contraceptives in women in this age group [40 and over] is not recommended.”

Read more

Population Briefs

Charting a Positive Future for Girls in Developing Countries

The Landscape

Through the 1990s, little was known about the lives of girls in developing countries across health, social, and economic dimensions, and few policies and programs existed to support girls. Research on adolescence, defined roughly as ages 10 to 19, focused primarily on premarital sex and pregnancy, and researchers routinely classified girls as adults once they married or gave birth, regardless of their age.

Read more