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Scientific articles on transmission

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Hi, I've read here several times about the percentage per year risk of transmission from women to men and from men to women. Some even cited the numbers considering the use or not of Condoms or antivirals. 4%.2%.1% for women and 10%.5% and 2.5% for men. 

Could someone here, please, inform me which scientific article, research or study were these numbers taken from? 

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I hope you are well. This is a great question. It is always good to fact check! 🙂

Those numbers were actually taken from a source on this site! It can be viewed here: https://assets.website-files.com/5bad419cb04cd52dae8f7a89/60bf0e3302177fcd83cd1752_herpes-opportunity-disclosure-handout-2021.pdf

That fact sheet used 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 came from this original source: https://westoverheights.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Updated-Herpes-Book.pdf

Facts about Spreading from HSV positive Man to HSV negative Woman:

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!

I did not find the HSV positive Woman to HSV negative Man Statistics in this document, but I will search other sources and get back to you! 🙂 


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  • 1 month later...

Hi Grace,

I find this whole area very muddy, so thank you for the links, but I do find those figures confusing. Can you help me?

Re male positive to female negative...
Accepting the 10% transmission risk above...

if condoms reduce that risk by 96%, then surely that means there would only be a 4% chance of the 10% risk, ie 4% of 10% would be 0.4%

And then add anti virals' 50% reduction. 50% of 0.4% would be 0.2%.

I am using this to try and assess and manage my risk of passing this to my partner so I hope I am right.
In my case I would add regarding the 10% premise, that I do not get outbreaks so I would expect that my initial 10% risk would be reduced further as a starting point.

Does that make sense? What do you think?


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