THE drug commonly used to treat outbreaks of genital herpes infections can safely be used on a daily basis for years to prevent recurrences of this distressing viral disease, according to a five-year study published recently in Archives of Dermatology. How is herpes diagnosed? All three of the antiviral treatments mentioned above have been proven to help shorten the amount of time that a person may experience symptoms of herpes. Herpes simplex virus has a complicated life cycle that enables it to persist within the body. It is related to but different from the varicella zoster virus, which causes chickenpox and shingles. While these can’t rid the body of HSV, they help many people with herpes control the infection and keep symptoms to a minimum. If you take a course of an antiviral medicine as soon as symptoms start, it may reduce the duration and severity of symptoms.
For many years, people diagnosed with genital herpes had to cope with recurrent symptoms without the benefit of any medications able to target herpes itself. In the first year of the study, patients receiving continuous suppressive therapy were compared with those who took dummy pills and wotj those who were treated only when outbreaks occurred. Today, a decade later, therapeutic options have expanded yet again, with two new antiviral agents reaching the market. Genital herpes treatment is used to suppress acute outbreaks and prevent recurring episodes. First episode: A 10-day course of medication can dramatically lessen the severity of a first episode. Goldberg of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, also found that side effects from the continuous treatment regimen were few and rarely led to a decision by the patient to stop the suppressive medication. Episodic Therapy: Taken at the first warning sign of an outbreak, medication can help to shorten the duration of symptoms and speed healing of sores.
Antiviral medications for genital herpes can reduce outbreaks and help speed recovery when an outbreak does happen. Most likely to benefit from episodic therapy are people who have severe or prolonged recurrences and those who experience prodrome. Goldbergand his co-authors suggested that patients placed on suppressive acyclovir therapy should be re-evaluated annually by discontinuing the medication to see if the attacks resume, indicating that the medication still needs to be taken daily. In some cases, the prompt use of medication during prodrome will abort the episode before herpes lesions form. The other is to take it daily to prevent outbreaks. In addition, recent research suggests that suppressive therapy brings a 95% reduction in the number of days per year on which sub clinical viral shedding occurs and poses a risk of transmission. Whether suppressive therapy alone can prevent transmission, however, is still a matter of study, and people on suppression are still advised to use other precautions as well.
Valaciclovir, a prescription drug sold as Valtrex(R), is a new compound that uses acyclovir as its active ingredient but is better absorbed by the body than the original formula. Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause blisters and skin ulcers in the genital and anal area. Valtrex is approved for use in treating recurrent genital herpes and will likely be approved as well for first episodes and for suppressive therapy. Famciclovir, a prescription drug sold as Famvir (R), works by a mode of action similar to acyclovir’s but persists for longer periods within the body, thereby requiring less frequent dosing (twice daily for episodic therapy). Like valaciclovir, it is approved for use in treating recurrent genital herpes and will likely be approved as well for first episodes and for suppressive therapy. Raw Honey Works Better Than Drugs for Herpes! Large numbers of people have taken it continuously for six or more years, also without serious adverse effects.
Acyclovir is even being studied in pregnant women, although the drug is not yet licensed for use in pregnancy outside formal research trials. The Acyclovir in Pregnancy Registry, started over ten years ago, has shown no rise in birth defects or any increase in other problems to date. Valtrex is the brand name for valacyclovir, an antiviral drug used to treat infections caused by certain types of viruses. Drug-resistant strains of herpes have been identified in people with weakened immune systems, such as people with AIDS or those on chemotherapy. It appears that strains of herpes that are abnormal or deficient in certain enzymes are more likely to flourish in immune-compromised people, and these strains also are less likely to respond to therapy with acyclovir, valaciclovir or famciclovir. On the other hand, there has been no increase in drug-resistant strains of herpes in the general population since acyclovir was introduced in 1985, and sensitivity to acyclovir remains high in those taking the drug even for several years. If you’re taking acyclovir for genital herpes, it can reduce the severity or prevent recurrences of a herpes outbreak.
The initial goal of such research is a preventive vaccine that would protect the vaccine recipient from infection if he or she were later exposed to herpes. The same type of vaccines might also provide therapeutic benefit to those already infected by reducing their number of herpes outbreaks.