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S04.3 What has ebola virus to do with sexually transmitted infections?
  1. Nicola Low
  1. Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

Abstract

Ebola virus could play both direct and indirect roles in the epidemiology and control of sexually transmitted infections (STI). The world's largest outbreak of Ebola virus had caused more than 23,000 cases and 11,000 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of July 2015. Control efforts have largely interrupted transmission, but new endogenous cases have emerged in Liberia, which had been declared Ebola-free. And new cases continue to be reported in Guinea and Sierra Leone. First, the direct role of sexual transmission in sustaining Ebola virus transmission is intriguing but unknown. Sexual transmission of Ebola virus from a male survivor to a female partner in Liberia is strongly supported by epidemiological and genome sequencing data, but cannot be proven. Studies from earlier Ebola virus disease outbreaks have documented persistent viral shedding in semen and vaginal secretions. Ongoing research is examining the shedding, persistence and clearance of Ebola virus in genital fluids in more detail. Second, the Ebola virus disease outbreak has devastated the economy, diverted resources from already weak public health systems and disrupted social structures. Indirectly, the social and economic consequences of the epidemic are likely to have favoured the spread of known STI and HIV in the most heavily affected countries. This presentation will review the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence about Ebola virus as an STI and about the public health impact of the outbreak on STI and HIV control.

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