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WHO strengthens safe sex guidance when returning from Zika zones

New advisory is a change from earlier interim recommendation which referred only to men

Published: Updated:

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that men and women returning from areas where the Zika virus is actively spreading should practice safer sex or abstinence for 6 months, regardless of whether they are trying to conceive or showing symptoms.

The guidance is a change from the WHO’s interim recommendation on June 7, which referred only to men and had a shorter timeframe of at least eight weeks.

The primary transmission route of Zika virus is via the Aedes mosquito.

However, mounting evidence has shown that sexual transmission of Zika virus is possible and more common than previously assumed, according to WHO. This is of concern due to an association between Zika virus infection and adverse pregnancy and fetal outcomes, including microcephaly and other neurological complications.