Preventing Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus Infection During Pregnancy, Puerto Rico, USA, 2016

Beatriz Salvesen von Essen; Katie Kortsmit; Lee Warner; Denise V. D'Angelo; Holly B. Shulman; Wanda Hernández Virella; Aspy Taraporewalla; Leslie Harrison; Sascha Ellington; Carrie Shapiro-Mendoza; Wanda Barfield; Ruben A. Smith; Denise J. Jamieson; Shanna Cox; Karen Pazol; Patricia García Díaz; Beatriz Ríos Herrera; Manuel Vargas Bernal


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2019;25(11):2115-2119. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


We examined condom use throughout pregnancy during the Zika outbreak in Puerto Rico during 2016. Overall, <25% of women reported consistent condom use during pregnancy. However, healthcare provider counseling was associated with a 3-fold increase in consistent use, reinforcing the value of provider counseling in Zika prevention efforts.


Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause brain abnormalities, microcephaly, and other birth defects in exposed offspring.[1,2] Although transmission of Zika virus primarily occurs through the bite of an infected mosquito, it can also be transmitted by having intercourse with an infected partner.[3,4] In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance for prevention of sexual transmission of Zika virus for pregnant women and couples planning to conceive.[3–5] In areas where Zika virus transmission was active, pregnant women and their male partners were advised to consistently and correctly use condoms when having intercourse or to abstain from intercourse during pregnancy to reduce the risk for sexual transmission of Zika virus.[3–5] Corresponding with CDC guidance to healthcare providers,[3–5] the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal–Fetal Medicine released interim guidance outlining the need to provide counseling about recommended prevention measures to women and their partners who were at risk for exposure to Zika virus infection.[6]