Throughout all the Zika buzz in the last several months, there's one phrase that you'll read and hear consistently: there's so much we still don't know. That's why every new development into the workings of this scary virus sparks another wave of worry.
Up until this point, the CDC thought that sexual transmission of Zika was only possible from male-to-female and male-to-male. However, the CDC just announced there's a new case in New York City that suggests otherwise. A Zika-infected woman had unprotected sex with an uninfected man, who now tests positive for the virus. (Related: 7 Facts You Need to Know About Zika)
Here's the full story: a 20-something woman traveled outside the country to an area of Zika transmission, and began experiencing some symptoms (a headache and abdominal cramping) while waiting for her flight back to NYC. On the day she returned, she had unprotected vaginal sex (not oral or anal) with a male partner. The next day, the woman developed the tell-tale Zika symptoms: fever, fatigue, rash, back pain, and numbness and tingling in her hands and feet. Two days later, she went to the doctor and had her blood and urine tested, which were both found positive for the virus. A week after having sex, the male partner also developed fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (aka pink eye); however, he hadn't traveled outside the country in the last year, or gotten bitten by any mosquitoes or had unprotected sex with another partner within the week before he became sick. He also went to the doctor, and his urine tested positive for Zika, but his blood did not.
The timing and sequence of events in this case really strongly suggest that female-to-male transmission of Zika is possible through unprotected vaginal sex—and this is consistent with increasing evidence that Zika can be present and transmitted through vaginal fluid, according to the CDC.
With the Rio Olympic Games kicking off in just a few weeks, more and more people will be traveling to Brazil, a hotspot of Zika transmission. (Here's what that means for the athletes.) It's more important than ever for people to take smart steps to limit the spread of the virus—especially as an STD. How, you ask? Correctly and consistently using condoms every time you have sex. (Our sexpert can tell you exactly what that means.) This is the only known way to prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted Zika, the CDC points out. But, #realtalk, you guys, that should be the safe sex standard, whether Zika is a threat or not.