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Sex Transm Dis. 2012 May;39(5):388-93. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e318248aa8a.

Case-crossover analysis of condom use and herpes simplex virus type 2 acquisition.

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  • 1Departments of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.



Although growing evidence suggests that condoms offer moderate protection against herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), inability to control for unknown or unmeasured confounders associated with sexual activity may reduce the accuracy of the estimates. The case-crossover design offers increased control of individual-level confounders, and was thus used with the aim of producing a more accurate estimate of the effect of condom use on HSV-2 acquisition.


Data were pooled from 6 prospective studies that measured HSV-2 status at enrollment and over follow-up, and included periodic self-reported condom use and sexual activity. Sexual activity contemporaneous with acquisition was assigned to a case period; earlier sexual activity was assigned to a control period. Conditional logistic regression was used to assess differences in behavior during the case and control periods.


One hundred ninety-one eligible participants acquired HSV-2 during follow-up. This approach detected a 3.6% increase in the odds of HSV-2 acquisition with each unprotected act (odds ratio = 1.036; 95% confidence interval: 1.021-1.052), but no increase in the odds of acquisition associated with protected acts (odds ratio = 1.008; 95% confidence interval: 0.987-1.030).


This analysis suggests that condoms offer significant protection against HSV-2 transmission.

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