Coronavirus Found In Recovering Mens’ Semen, Sexual Transmission Not Confirmed

Chinese researchers may have discovered that the coronavirus could possibly be sexually transmitted after studies show the disease can live in men’s semen even after a person starts to get better. 

On Thursday, a team at Shangqiu Municipal Hospital tested 38 male patients back in January and February when the numbers for COVID-19 were the highest. During their case study, the researchers found that 16 percent of the men had evidence of the coronavirus in their semen, according to CNN. The medical officials recording the findings in the journal JAMA Network Open. The outlet reports that a quarter of the men were in an acute stage of infection, and nine percent of them were recovering. 

“We found that SARS-CoV-2 can be present in the semen of patients with COVID-19, and SARS-CoV-2 may still be detected in the semen of recovering patients,” wrote Diangeng Li of Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing and colleagues. “Even if the virus cannot replicate in the male reproductive system, it may persist, possibly resulting from the privileged immunity of testes,” the team said. Privileged immunity means a person’s immense system can’t completely reach the region that is under attack by the virus.

While researchers have not confirmed if the virus can be passed on through sex, many others can like, Zika virus and Ebola, which can live for months in the male reproductive tract. “If it could be proved that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted sexually in future studies, sexual transmission might be a critical part of the prevention of transmission,” said the team. 

“Abstinence or condom use might be considered as preventive means for these patients. In addition, it is worth noting that there is a need for studies monitoring fetal development. Therefore, to avoid contact with the patient’s saliva and blood may not be enough, since the survival of SARS-CoV-2 in a recovering patient’s semen maintains the likelihood to infect others.”

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