Valtrex Lowers Herpes Transmission
Drug May Prevent Spread of This Incurable STD
The findings are "pretty convincing," Clyde Crumpacker, MD, an infectious disease specialist with Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, tells WebMD.
"I think it's the first time this has been tested in a study as rigorous as this," says Crumpacker, who agreed to review the study for WebMD.
An estimated nine out of 10 people are unaware they have genital herpes and may only experience a mild initial outbreak without recognizing recurring symptoms of the disease.
"It's called asymptomatic shedding," says Corey. "People have no sign of herpes but will shed the virus when they have sex. It's possible that the virus is transmitted when people are not feeling infected at all."
The only way to know if you are infected is to get an antibody test -- a simple blood test that can be obtained at a clinic or doctor's office, he says.
"Genital herpes is the most common cause of ulcers in the genital area," Crumpacker says. "First, you develop red bumps in the genital area. For men, it's the shaft of the penis; for women, it's the inner labia or outer vagina. The bump is painful and itchy, and will break down into an ulcer. That's when the virus is most transmissible. From 10-12 days later, it will crust over and heal up."
There's no permanent way to get rid of the virus, but people who have frequent recurrences can take Valtrex daily to prevent recurrences. Corey's study shows "Valtrex provides another safeguard," he says. "If they take the pill all the time, they can reduce the chances of the virus shedding and being transmitted to someone else."