Women Are More At Risk For Sexually Transmitted Zika Than Previously Thought

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
As the number of Zika cases rises worldwide, each new study about the virus gets a little more urgent. The latest news could seem frightening, but it should also help people protect themselves: The New York Times reports that some scientists are becoming more concerned about women contracting the virus directly from men.

Two recent reports say that women in Latin America are more likely to be infected than men, even though both are equally exposed to mosquitoes.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) told the Times that he couldn't say for sure that women were more at risk, but that the data is "striking."

The data is still coming in and not everyone agrees about the cause-and-effect relationship at work. One of the studies controlled for pregnant women, who are tested more often for the virus, and one study did not. The study that adjusted for pregnancy found women 90% more likely than men their age to be affected. The other study found what it called a "massive increase in Zika in women compared to men."

Some suggest that the numbers for women could be higher simply because women are more concerned about Zika in general and, therefore, get tested more often. This might be due to the fact that women are on the front lines of the discussion about the birth defects caused by the virus.

To date, the Centers for Disease Control knows of just 13 cases of Zika being sexually transmitted within the continental United States. While more research is being done, the World Heath Organization (WHO) has already issued these safe sex guidelines.

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