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Transmission rates

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In the disclosures form handout are listed these male to females hsv2 transmission rates:

10% No protection over a year period
5%   With condoms or meds over a year period
2.5% with condoms and meds over a year period

My girlfriend wanted to know

1. Since the date above is based over a year period, how many sex acts are there in that period of time for these statistics ?

2. What  specific study or research data were these transmission rates taken from?

Thank you!


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You have asked some great questions. 

It's always a great idea to fact check information! The information that helped create the disclosure handout form was compiled from the following sources: Planned Parenthood’s herpes page • ASHA Herpes Resource Center • WebMD herpes page • CDC: Genital Herpes Fact Sheet • NYT Health Guide: Genital Herpes • Westover Heights Herpes Handbook • http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=896698 

The data you are referring to from the pre-disclosure info sheet is from the following source: https://westoverheights.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Updated-Herpes-Book.pdf

For the 10% no protection fact: Page 16 says "Overall the risk is 10% per year than an infected male would transmit HSV 2 to an uninfected female... The studies that gave us those numbers were based on the following criteria: 1) No sex during outbreaks 2) No daily antiviral medication and 3) No regular use of condoms 4) The people involved know that one of the people has genital herpes."

For the 5% with condoms fact: Page 17 of the document says, "When men use condoms with every single intercourse, transmission is reduced by 96% to an uninfected female."

**** For the 2.5% with condoms and meds fact: I sadly could not find where this fact came from. I am going to keep looking! It makes sense that the number would be less than 5%, since when condoms and antiviral medication are used together, the risk should be lower than what the risk is for just condoms (5%).  I will try and find the 2.5% fact and verify it! 

Your question about the number of sex acts per year is a great question, and it brings up a great point. I never thought about that! While the stats do not mention a number of acts, I think that the statistics apply to only penetrative vaginal (and/or anal ) intercourse, not oral sex. The source does not mention specifics. However, I can research the stats for oral intercourse and see if the transmission rates are different than penetrative sex. 

I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask! 

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Flowerteacher55....Wow!!  Just wow!!  what an amazing detailed answer you gave, thank you soo much for all that clarity!!     And yes the transmission rates were listed as a percentage per year, so it begs the question of "how many sex acts per year, as an averaged, were used too calculate the annual transmission rate"...so I u are able to find this detail, then you will have floored me again with your research ability. (but if not don't sweat it, u still done GREAT!!).    Thank you sooo much!!

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This question is still very tricky to answer, because there are so many factors that influence it.

So, most studies that have been done on HSV transmission are between gender binary (those who identify as the sex they were born with) heterosexual couples. So, this data leaves out entire groups of sexually active people! 

Many studies that ask people how many times they engage in sexual intimacy/acts per week involve people of a variety of sexual identities and orientations, which is awesome, but these studies don't focus on HSV or STIs, just number of sex acts preformed per unit of time.

So for example, the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University reported some statistics from a 2010 AARP article: a sample population of Americans showed 28% of them age 45 or up reported having sexual intercourse at least once a week in the past 6 months. Then, the article goes on to explain how number of sexual acts/intimacy decreases by 5% (vaginal/penetrative) and 7% (oral) per year for women aged 50+. Granted these numbers were from 2010! So, I am sure that this data wouldn't be the same today. Plus, this was just ONE sample population. Sample populations SHOULD be as representative of an entire population as possible, but of course there is always a margin of error. Plus, sexual intimacy is impacted by so many factors, whether it be religion, culture, ability, time, etc. 

Also, here is an article from PubMed that offers an example of 44 heterosexual couples followed for 300+ days, but it is from 1992! https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1309413/

I really hope that more studies are done right now and in the future so we can have up to date data.

Sorry for this rant and all this info! 

I shall keep looking and I will see if I can corroborate on the 2 times per week fact from @Sumshine!

Stay well!

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