Condoms protect against many sexually transmitted diseases, but their ability to prevent infection by the herpes simplex virus HSV-2 has remained unclear. Now, a group of scientists led by VIDI affiliate investigator Dr. Anna Wald has examined the relationship between condom use and HSV-2 transmission in six past studies, performing a pooled analysis of raw data from those studies to draw a more precise conclusion. The group found that condoms confer a modest but significant protection against HSV-2 infection; those who use condoms every time they have sex have a 30% reduced risk of infection as compared to those who never use condoms. While condoms offer much higher levels of protection against many other sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, these results indicate they may convey some benefit in preventing the spread of HSV-2.
A pooled analysis of the effect of condoms in preventing HSV-2 acquisition. Martin ET, Krantz E, Gottlieb SL, Magaret AS, Langenberg A, Stanberry L, Kamb M, Wald A. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Jul 13;169(13):1233-40.