The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance and information to prevent Zika virus transmission and its health effects. The new information includes updated interim guidance for healthcare professionals for counseling patients about pregnancy planning and the timing of pregnancy after possible exposure to Zika virus; updated interim guidance for preventing sexual transmission, with information about how long men and women should consider using condoms or not having sex; and considerations and challenges, based on Puerto Rico’s experience, for reducing unintended pregnancy in areas with active Zika transmission.
The updated CDC recommendations for pregnant and reproductive-age women are as follows:
The CDC’s prior recommendations for men who live in or travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission who have a pregnant partner remain the same. The CDC recommends that men with a pregnant partner should use condoms every time they have sex or should not have sex for the duration of the pregnancy. This includes vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
The updated guidance includes new timeframes for men and their nonpregnant partners based on the couple’s situation, including whether the man lives in or has traveled to an area with active Zika virus transmission and whether he develops symptoms of possible Zika infection. The guidance is based on available information about how long the virus remains in semen and about the risks associated with Zika based on whether or not men had symptoms of infection:
Because of the potential for Zika virus to affect pregnant women and their fetuses, strategies to prevent unintended pregnancy are a critical part of current efforts to prevent Zika-related health effects. Based on Puerto Rico’s experience, the CDC has identified considerations and challenges in reducing unintended pregnancies in areas with active Zika transmission.
Researchers have estimated that approximately 138,000 women in Puerto Rico may be at risk of unintended pregnancy and are not using one of the most effective or moderately effective forms of birth control. In areas with active Zika transmission, women and their partners who do not want to get pregnant should be advised about the range of effective birth control methods and counseled that correct and consistent use of these methods is important if they do not want to become pregnant.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working to leverage existing programs that currently provide resources for or access to contraception in Puerto Rico. The HHS is also coordinating with federal, local, and private partners to identify additional resources to support increased access to the most effective forms of contraception.
Source: CDC; March 25, 2016.