Condoms Reduce Genital Herpes Risk

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Researchers who analyzed pooled data from several studies concluded that using condoms was linked to a modest reduction in the risk of acquiring the herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), although the effect was not as large as that observed with other sexually transmitted diseases.

For the study the researchers identified 6 prospective studies that had collected data on individual condom use and where HSV-2 had been confirmed with lab tests. Longitudinal studies are studies that observe patterns of behaviour or drug use over a length of time and link them to outcomes measured during or at the end of the period.

For the analysis they used two ways of measuring effective condom use: they worked out a percentage of total sex acts that used condoms and they also used a figure calculated from absolute numbers of unprotected sex acts. The results showed that:

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* The pooled data covered 5,384 people who did not have HSV-2 at the start of an overall total of over 2 million days of follow up.

* 415 people tested positive for HSV-2 during the follow up.

* People who used condoms 100 per cent of the time had a 30 per cent lower risk of acquiring HSV-2 than those who never used them.

* The risk of acquiring HSV-2 went up steadily and significantly with each unprotected sex act.

* These ratios were the same for men and women.