Sexually Transmitted Diseases…. Zika?
The CDC is reporting that they are investigating whether the Zika virus can be transmitted sexually as seen in the New York Times.
You've probably heard of Zika Virus infection from getting bitten by mosquitoes... but from sex, as in a STD?
Any viral or bacterial infection that can become systemic "infect your whole system through the blood stream" can be expressed in semen. The infections can either be in the fluid component of semen, or actually hitch hiking on bacteria. Knowing that the Zika virus can be one of these infections the question is how to protect from getting this infection, or any other for that matter.
We recommend the “ABC” strategy: abstinence, being faithful, and condom use. Although abstinence will always be an option, responsible sexual activity should include condoms as protection. Far from perfect, consistent condom use will reduce your chance of getting HIV by over 85% and HPV by 70% and HSV (Herpes) by 30%. In a lifetime about 80% of the population will get HPV. So the better you are at your condoms the less likely you will be one of those statistics.
One of the important issues of Zika transmission, is that the partner transmitting infection may not know he is ill or carrying the virus. This happens with other STDs as well, you and your partner may both appear to be symptom free and believe yourselves to be symptom free. Here are some heartwarming statistics straight from the CDC: only 1 out of 10 Genital Herpes carriers know they are infected and only 25% of all Chlamydia carriers have any symptoms at all. Unless you both get tested, you may never know if one of you has an STD.The rate of STDs is climbing; in the U.S. alone, there are 40 million Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infections and over 1 million Chlamydia infections. It is important for everyone to take control of their sexual health. It is always a good idea to test before any sexual contact or as soon as possible after you start having sex. You may also need to retest at a later time because you won’t test positive the morning after; that is a project for a couple of weeks later. For HIV, you might need a test a few weeks later just to be sure.
With Zika we have no test,and we don't know how long it would take to show any symptoms once you are infected via sex. All excellent questions we will report on as soon as more is known. Exactly how protective against Zika is not really known, but we anticipate bringing you updates as we know them. For more general information regarding Zika Infection go to ACOG.org the Practice Advisory.