Condoms Can Protect Against Herpes Simplex Virus 2

But magnitude of protection is not as great as it is for other infections

TUESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- Condom use does protect against the transmission of the herpes simplex virus 2, but the level of protection is lower than it is for other sexually transmitted infections, according to a study published in the July 13 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Emily T. Martin, of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues conducted a review of six studies with data on condom use and herpes simplex virus 2 acquisition, three of which were candidate vaccine studies, one was a herpes simplex virus 2 drug study, one was an observational study of sexually transmitted infection incidence, and one was a behavioral sexually transmitted infection intervention study.

The studies provided baseline data on 5,384 herpes simplex virus 2-negative people, of whom 415 acquired the virus during follow-up. Patients who reported using condoms 100 percent of the time were 30 percent less likely to acquire the virus than those who never used condoms, and the risk of acquiring herpes simplex virus 2 was higher with each act of unprotected sex, the investigators discovered.

"The 30 percent reduction in herpes simplex virus 2 acquisition observed in this pooled analysis was less than the reported 87 percent reduction associated with condom use on HIV acquisition," the authors write. "Nonetheless, based on findings of this large analysis using all available prospective data, condom use should continue to be recommended to both men and women for reducing risk of herpes simplex virus 2 acquisition."

Authors of the study reported financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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