Herpes Tips

Seattle researchers say pill thwarts spread of genital herpes

About 48 million people in the United States have genital herpes. The drug’s called valacyclovir and it’s prescribed to people with genital herpes and, less often, people with cold sores caused by a different strain of herpes. Acyclovir 800 mg is not a controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). The sexually transmitted virus infects an estimated one in five Americans over age 12, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital herpes affects the genitals, back, buttocks or anal area. It’s a serious public-health issue because the disease is incurable, and herpes sores on the genitals can be painful and facilitate the transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

In each case, one partner had genital herpes and the other did not. Half of the infected people were given a daily dose of Valtrex and the other half received a placebo. Both groups were urged to use condoms, but few did so consistently. The chance of spreading herpes to a partner was low during the eight-month study, even among the placebo group, perhaps because these were established partners who’d already managed to avoid passing the virus. The likelihood of passing herpes to a partner was 3.6 percent without Valtrex compared with 1.9 percent with the drug. The drug is not 100 percent effective at preventing transmission, so people with herpes should still tell potential partners about their infection, said Dr. The virus can be dangerous in newborn babies or in people with weak immune systems.