Can COVID-19 Be Sexually Transmitted?
A new study out yesterday found that the COVID-19 virus has been detected in semen of infected men. Out of the men tested, this study finds evidence of COVID-19 in the semen of 16% of these men. This is a significant finding. In an interview today featuring Dr. Bob Lahita, he explained that there are immunological privilege sites in the human body where the virus can reside and not be detected. These areas are the inner eyeball, thyroid, ovary and testicles. These privileged immune sites mean the immune system will not fully reach this part of the body to attack the virus. Chinese researchers say that the coronavirus can persist in men’s semen even after they have begun to recover, a finding that raises the possibility that the virus could be sexually transmitted. This information is compiled in a journal reported in the JAMA Network Open and states that many viruses can live in the male reproductive tract and in semen sometimes months after recovery; also noting that there are many unclear evidences of virus: meaning it is extremely infectious.
Safe Sex Can Help Prevent Coronavirus Transmission
There are still so many unanswered questions. The key is knowing what we are up against and also discovering what future studies may prove, “sexual transmission might be a critical part of the prevention of transmission”, the team wrote. The team also noted, “abstinence or condom use might be considered as preventive means for these patients. In addition, it is worth noting that there is a need for studies monitoring fetal development. Therefore, to avoid contact with the patient’s saliva and blood may not be enough.” What does this mean: the possibility of a recovering patient’s semen maintains the likelihood to infect others.” Now, looking closer at the JAMA Network Open research letter of infectious disease states that this study was performed at the Shangqiu Municipal Hospital in Shangqiu, China. This study identified male patients with lab-confirmed COVID-19 ages 15 and older. The dates of this study were January 26, 2020 and February 16, 2020. The WHO (World Health Organization) has set standards for lab guidance to confirm the virus. Enrolled patients provided semen samples which were compared and analyzed against these standards. The results depicted that a percentage of these patients showed positive test results in semen whether they were in a recovery stage or in acute stage of the coronavirus disease. In further discussion of the JAMA report, it states that even though the virus is not able to replicate in the male reproductive system, it may linger and persist, possibly proving the statement that this is a virus protected by privilege immunity. Further studies are needed to prove these findings as this was a very limited sample size. What is concerning is that viral detection is beneficial to public health; especially with what we now know about the mortality rates of these viruses. Furthermore, this study might contribute new information about the COVID-19 prevention and control. The best protection is knowledge after all.
Wearing a Condom Has Never Been More Important
The benefits to wearing a condom in prevention of sexually-transmitted disease becomes more paramount as we study this critical topic. This report and topic are being openly reported in the media today announcing that traces of COVID-19 are found in semen of infected men. Media outlets such as CBS13 Sacramento say that this raises the possibility of the virus being a sexually-transmitted disease. In one report it states that this is not a surprise to find the coronavirus in semen, and that the Cleveland Clinic has also found virus in stool and other body fluids. There are other infectious viruses commonly found in semen recently noting that the Zika virus was also found. Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the John Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore said, “the fact that the novel coronavirus’ genetic material is found in the semen of male patients is an important finding that will need follow-up study.” We all agree we need further research on this topic. This raises a warning and Dr. Greg Poland, director of the Vaccine Research Group at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota says, “we have to attend to that warning and do the research.” What is confirmed is that the virus is transmitted efficiently through respiratory route and now we need to do more research to know that there may be confirmed cases of sexual transmission of COVID-19. This reminds me of the value of knowledge and self-care. Awareness is a large part of how we live our lives and how we stay healthy.
Our sexual health is a critical part of our overall health and should never be overlooked. Prevention of any and all sexually-transmitted diseases is a paramount global concern. What a blessing that we live in a world where sharing information saves lives and supports one another in all areas of our well-being.
Stay Safely Sexual!