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ARHP Testimony
Statement In Response to Zika Virus

March 10, 2016

Washington, DC

The following is a statement issued by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals on the recent outbreak of Zika virus.

Ongoing developments surrounding Zika virus indicate it continues to be a serious international and domestic public health concern. ARHP recommends that all health care providers follow the Zika virus guidelines released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Zika virus interim guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO). While the science on Zika virus continues to evolve and much is still not known, these guidelines offer health care providers and public health officials salient prevention, testing, treatment, and reporting information. The CDC website also offers guidance to assist in responding to patient questions about the virus and pregnancy implications.

Key Points Regarding Zika Virus:

  • Mosquito bite prevention methods should be used in affected areas
  • Zika virus is not spread by casual contact
  • Safe sex practices should always be used
  • Risk of widespread transmission in the United States is low

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ARHP strongly supports comprehensive, patient-centered contraceptive and preconception counseling for all women at risk for and/or diagnosed with Zika infection. Providers should honor patient autonomy regarding reproductive life planning and counsel patients with up-to-date information that is evidence-based and free of bias. This current Zika virus public health emergency has exposed critical barriers for women accessing comprehensive contraceptive care, including safe and legal abortions and emergency contraception.

ARHP calls on clinicians, public health, and public policy officials to use the Zika virus outbreak as an opportunity to advocate for comprehensive and accessible reproductive health care. Women facing this threat must be supported by agencies and health care systems that will respect their bodily autonomy while offering the full complement of reproductive health care. Furthermore, related agencies must work together to facilitate communication, streamline research, and disseminate results to maximize efficiency in reducing the morbidity caused by this outbreak.

For more information on Zika virus, please see the CDC's website and your local health department. Please stay tuned to ARHP's website for links to CDC guidelines as they are updated and issued on this evolving topic.