Image courtesy of CDC
Most of us have heard that Zika can be passed through sex, but did you know that Zika can be passed
through several different types of sexual activity, not just intercourse? This includes vaginal, oral, and anal sex and the sharing of sex toys.
Zika can be passed even in a monogamous relationship. It can be passed even if both partners have been tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Zika can also be passed through sexual activity even if the infected person does not have Zika symptoms. Some people with Zika will never have symptoms but they can still pass the virus. Even for people who do feel sick, Zika can be spread before the symptoms develop and after the symptoms go away. Zika virus can stay in the body for a long time after infection -
especially in men's semen
. CDC has specific recommendations based on where people travel or live and their pregnancy plans. Learn more
As seen in the
Myth of the Week
, located in the sidebar of this newsletter, Zika can be transmitted between partners regardless of gender. This means that both men and women can
Zika through sexual activity with any partner.
The following story is an example of how Zika virus can be passed through sexual activity and have implications for a community.
Steve's Story: Steve returns from a work conference in an area where Zika is being transmitted. He never feels sick, he does not know he should use condoms during sex, and he passes Zika virus to his pregnant wife, Tamara. Their baby is born with microcephaly and other serious disabilities. Tamara likes to sit outside and she does not usually wear mosquito repellent. She gets bitten by a mosquito and that same mosquito bites her neighbor, spreading Zika to another family. The newly infected neighbor may also pass Zika to her own partner, her unborn child, or others in the community.
CDC has created general recommendations to help keep families and communities safe. Recommendations are based on risk of Zika exposure and pregnancy status or pregnancy plans. Of course, decisions about reproduction and sexuality are complex and very personal to the individual. You can learn more about CDC's recommendations HERE
correctly, every time, and from start to finish
can reduce the risk of sexual transmission. Abstaining from sexual activity can eliminate the risk of sexual transmission.
*Be advised that the links in this paragraph contain graphic images demonstrating how to use these barrier methods. These images are intended for adults and may not be appropriate for all audiences.
Around half of all pregnancies are unplanned, so even couples not trying to get pregnant can have a baby affected by Zika virus. Couples who don't want to have a baby right now may want to consider using a reliable method of birth control. However, although many birth control methods can prevent an unplanned pregnancy, only barrier methods such as condoms can also prevent Zika transmission. Learn more about birth control methods HERE or talk with a healthcare provider.
Learn more about the sexual transmission of Zika from the CDC
View an NIHB webinar about sexual transmission of Zika virus