A recent study shows that the new coronavirus can continue to exist in men’s semen even after patients begin the recovery phase.
The study, published by Diangeng Li and four other Chinese researchers on May 7, found that nearly 16% of patients tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in their semen. In total, 38 patients were enrolled for semen testing, with 40% of patients in the acute stage of infection and 60% recovering.
The testing was carried out in late January and February at Shangqiu Municipal Hospital in Henan province.
In the introduction of the study, Li and his colleagues wrote, “The virus responsible for COVID-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been detected in stool, gastrointestinal tract, saliva and urine samples. However, little is known about SARS-CoV-2 in semen.”
The findings note the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 could be transmitted sexually, although the team say this would need to be proved in future studies. “Abstinence or condom use might be considered as preventive means for these patients,” the study said.
Past viruses have also shown similar results. A 2017 study by researchers from the University of North Carolina Health Care found that the Ebola virus RNA can “persist in the semen of survivors more than two years after the onset of infection.”
[Cover image via NIAID-RML]