Condoms decrease HSV-2 transmission

A life-goal of mine: Turn HIV-1 into herpes. An STD that sucks, you have to take meds for, you have to tell your partner about, need to worry about passing to your baby in childbirth, but not a soul crushing death sentence, anywhere.

But even though herpes has some behaviors HIV-1 needs, HIV has an important feature HSV-2 lacks– Condoms kick ass at preventing HIV-1 transmission, but we werent sure if they worked all that well at preventing HSV-2 transmission. Cause HSV-2 is shed from epithelial cells (skin cells), and condoms dont cover all the skin thats shedding… so… *shrug*

Good news!

A Pooled Analysis of the Effect of Condoms in Preventing HSV-2 Acquisition

Consistent condom users (used 100% of the time) had a 30% lower risk of HSV-2 acquisition compared with those who never used condoms (hazard ratio [HR], 0.70;
95% confidence interval [CI], 0.40-0.94) (P = .01). Risk for HSV-2 acquisition increased steadily and significantly with each unprotected sex act (HR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.08-1.25) (P= .001). Condom effectiveness did not vary by gender.


Sure, 30% lower risk for HSV-2 transmission isnt as great as 87% with HIV-1, but hey! Its something!

I think the news is even better than that– This paper is an analysis of previously published data. Data from papers that were trying to assess the effectiveness of valacyclovir (Valtrex) and putative vaccine studies.

Except they only used data from the placebo groups!

Sooooo if you have HSV-2 and your partner doesnt, and you all always use condoms (ALWAYS GODDAMMIT. ALWAYS. NO EXCUSES.) aaaand you take valacyclovir once a day, youve got your risk of transmitting as low as you can get it with todays technologies/medicine!



  1. #1 Uncephalized
    July 14, 2009

    It’s really too bad condoms make the experience of sex about 10% as good as without them (at least for me; I don’t know about for other men or for women). They smell funny, lube tastes terrible, and they dull sensation. Otherwise, I would call them a miracle.

    Good thing I’m in a monogamous relationship with no prior partners on either side, so I don’t need to use them. 🙂

  2. #2 William Wallace
    July 15, 2009

    Good point, Uncephalized.

  3. #3 strip bubbles
    July 15, 2009

    A long time ago my husband and I had to resort to condoms as part of the whole family planning fiasco. It was kind of fun, like we were doing something back when we were young and single. Kind of silly but at the time … kind of naughty..still didn’t last long and thank god for vasectomies (I know, the wrong person to thank).

  4. #4 Lab Rat
    July 15, 2009

    10% ? Are you sure you just weren’t having very bad sex? I mean condoms are yes fun, sure, but I wouldn’t say *that* much less fun. My main problem with them was that you kind of had to stop the action to get them on.

    Good thing I’m (now) in a long-term relationship where my partner *did* use them previously, so I have no need of them either 😀

  5. #5 BAllanJ
    July 15, 2009

    Old quote/joke:

    “Just do what I do… wear 2 condoms all the time and then take one off for sex… feels great!”

    Dennis Miller way back in his SNL days, if I remember correctly.(early aids awareness days)

  6. #6 Prometheus
    July 15, 2009

    I like to use a Dayton 1323202 electric winch to lower myself up to my neck in a vat of hot 9 Shore A polyurethane elastomer prior to sex.

    I’m married, disease free and my sister wives, who are also my cousins and I are trying to have children.

    But I have this 9 Shore A polyurethane elastomer fetish you see and…….

    Will you people please share less!

  7. #7 JustaTech
    July 15, 2009

    Sheesh, people complain about condoms! Clearly the trick is to just start using them from the first time, that way if there is some kind of sensation problem, you’ll never notice it. And really, if you think the lube tastes bad, get better lube.

    There are solutions to most of the complaints, you just have to put in a wee bit of effort. (I know people in the industry, and they work on this stuff all the time.)

    Working in an HIV lab next to an HSV-2 lab, this is way cool stuff!

  8. #8 the backpacker
    July 15, 2009

    You are going to be ok Prometheus, just pick up some brain soap on the way home and give the old gray matter a quick scrub down. Just remember up and down not back and forth.

  9. #9 Sili
    July 15, 2009

    But how can this be?! His Holiness clearly says that condoms :spits: are like nets!

    Ah well – some of us don’t have to worry about STIs …

  10. #10 ragarth
    July 16, 2009

    Humm, isn’t the reason we can’t fully cure HSV-2 because it fortifies itself with French Coursairs and English Cavalry in a group of cells we can’t get medication too?

    If this is the case, then HIV-1, though stupidly difficult to develop a cure for due to it’s high mutation rate, has a greater likelihood of curability once we have an effective attack vector.

    Or am I totally wrong?

  11. #11 ERV
    July 16, 2009

    HSV-2 hides in neurons.

    HIV-1 hides in brains.

    Prevention is the best cure, in both cases, which is where condoms come in!

  12. #12 ragarth
    July 16, 2009

    Interesting! I didn’t know HIV-1 did the alamo thing. Thank you for teaching me something new.

  13. #13 Pony
    July 16, 2009

    And you can present HSV-1 downstairs too! So don’t get complacent just because all you have is the “innocuous” type.

  14. #14 OfCourseAnon
    July 16, 2009

    Woah, 30% isn’t as much of an improvement as I would have hoped. Anti-virals reduce transmission by about 50%, and that didn’t seem so great, either. But, I wonder which way they are measuring, FtoM transmission or MtoF transmission? It seems to me that condoms should work better at protecting men by covering glans and the metus* than for women who’s mucous membranes remain unprotected from HSV shedding from areas not covered by the condom.

    *and less so, I would guess, if body fluids aren’t washed off before removal of the condom.

  15. #15 LanceR, JSG
    July 22, 2009

    And in a perfect world, that might work, (wrong) Answer Man. However, since we do *not* live in a perfect world, and never have, we need real-world solutions, not bumper stickers.

    Oh, and keep your religious delusions out of my sex life, willya? It’s your god, those are your rules, *you* follow ’em. Leave the rest of us alone.

  16. #16 minimalist
    July 22, 2009

    Shorter Answer boy: “Sluts who won’t f*ck me should die.”

    That’s some good, old-fashioned Puritan douchebaggery right there, boy howdy.

  17. #17 Stephen Wells
    July 23, 2009

    Small side bet on whether Answerboy ever had extramarital sex?

    Or any sex?

  18. #18 LanceR, JSG
    July 23, 2009

    Sounds like someone has an anal fixation.

    Here’s a tip, dumbass. Don’t assume anything about people you meet online. Until they explicitly tell you their politics/religion/sexual preferences, don’t make assumptions. You’ll seem less of a dumbass then.

    Take your meds.

  19. #19 minimalist
    July 24, 2009

    I love moments like this. Poke the troll a little bit, and they bring the full-on crazy.

    Love that Christian compassion! Yea, as Jesus spake unto Mary Magdalene, “GO DIE U DUM BIMBO, PLUS U CHARGE TOO MUCH 4 TUGJOBZ.”

  20. #20 LanceR, JSG
    July 24, 2009

    And you gotta love the “Satanic communist fascist filth fudgepacker backer pigs” line. How’s that one parse?

    Looks like we have two sections, the “Satanic Communist Fascist” political/religious commentary, followed by the “filth fudgepacker backer pigs” word salad.

    Satanic Communist Fascist? Unless I miss my guess all three of these are mutually exclusive. At a minimum, they are contradictory.

    And WTF is a “backer pig”? Is he just misspelling “bacon”? BACON!

    And I’d really hate to “get struck by lightening”, too. Oh wait… I could stand to drop a few pounds. Maybe a little lightening.

    I know… my wife keeps telling me not to mock the mentally ill. But I just can’t help myself! It’s a sickness. I deserve some compassion, too! Where’s the tolerance? Where’s the love? Where’s the brownies?

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