Zika

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To Fight Zika Beyond Florida We Need Better Sex Education

In light of the recent news that Zika virus could stay in semen for more than six months ― twice as long as scientists previously though the virus could be detected ― it’s time for the United States to ramp up its focus on the major mechanism for Zika virus transmission after mosquitos: sex.

“For the public health community, Zika represents an unprecedented emergency,” Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association in August.

“Never before, to our knowledge, has a mosquito-borne virus been associated with human birth defects or been capable of sexual transmission,” Frieden wrote.

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Zika and Chikungunya Viruses Threaten Public Health

This month, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus to be a public health emergency. Health officials suspect that Zika is linked to birth defects, including microcephaly, a condition that prevents a baby’s brain and skull from developing properly. Another virus that is spreading rapidly, Chikungunya, can cause chronic joint pain that lasts for months or even years. Zika and Chikungunya are both spread by mosquito bites. Currently, there is no vaccine for either virus.

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Sexually Transmitted Zika Highlights Brazil’s Rampant Inequality

On Friday, scientists detected Zika virus in both urine and saliva for the first time, classifying the virus in the bodily fluid samples as “active.” That means the fluid samples are capable of transmitting Zika. This finding, coupled with recent reports of a sexually transmitted Zika case in Texas, indicates that sexual contact may become a significant mode of transmission for the disease.

The conclusion bodes poorly for the most impoverished women in Brazil and other Latin American countries, where access to comprehensive sex education and reproductive care — including abortion — is spotty to nonexistent.

While Brazilian researchers cautioned that it was too soon to say whether the virus can be transmitted via urine or saliva, the U.

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