The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued an interim guidance update on prevention of sexual transmission of Zika virus. Based on new evidence, the recommended length of time for safer sex practices for asymptomatic males returning from areas with active Zika virus transmission is extended from 8 weeks to 6 months. The recommendation now also applies to females, whether or not they have had symptoms. The 6-month duration of safer sexual practice upon return has not changed. Other WHO recommendations:
In regions with active Zika virus transmission, health programs should ensure that:
- All people (male and female) with Zika virus infection and their sexual partners (particularly pregnant women) receive information about the risks of sexual transmission of Zika virus.
- Men and women also get counseling on safer sexual practices, and be offered condoms. The consistent use of condoms is essential to prevent sexually transmitted infections, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and unwanted pregnancy.
- Sexually active men and women be correctly counseled and offered a full range of contraceptive methods to be able to make an informed choice about whether and when to become pregnant, in order to prevent possible adverse pregnancy and fetal outcomes.
- Women who have had unprotected sex and do not wish to become pregnant due to concerns about Zika virus infection have ready access to emergency contraceptive services and counseling.
- Pregnant women should practice safer sex or abstain from sexual activity for at least the whole duration of the pregnancy. Their partners should also be informed about this recommendation.
In regions with no active Zika virus transmission, health programs should ensure that:
- Men and women returning from areas where transmission of Zika virus is known to occur should adopt safer sex practices or consider abstinence for at least 6 months upon return to prevent Zika virus infection through sexual transmission.
- Couples or women planning a pregnancy, who are returning from areas where transmission of Zika virus is known to occur, are advised to wait at least 6 months before trying to conceive to ensure that possible Zika virus infection has cleared.
- Sexual partners of pregnant women, returning from areas where transmission of Zika virus is known to occur, should be advised to practice safer sex or abstain from sexual activity for at least the whole duration of the pregnancy.
World Health Organization. Prevention of sexual transmission of Zika virus. [news release]. http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/zika/sexual-transmission-p.... Accessed September 8, 2016.
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