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November 7, 2001

Effect of Condoms on Reducing Genital Herpes Transmission

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2001;286(17):2095-2096. doi:10.1001/jama.286.17.2091

To the Editor: Dr Wald and colleagues1 found that condom use provides some protection for women against herpes infection. However, the degree of protection offered to women from an infected partner (91.5% risk reduction) by inconsistent condom use (at least 25% of sex acts) seems suspect. A meta-analysis of condom effectiveness for reducing HIV risk demonstrated that consistent (100% of the time) condom use reduced the yearly risk of acquiring HIV infection through vaginal sex with an infected partner by approximately 87% (7% to 1%).2 One would not expect inconsistent condom use to provide more protection from an infection transmitted by direct contact (eg, HSV-2) than consistent condom use provides from an infection transmitted solely by body fluids (eg, HIV), particularly since HIV and HSV-2 seem to have similar infectivities.

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