How Can You Catch Herpes
Like most sexual transmitted infections , herpes is passed on when someone with an active outbreak of the virus has sexual intercourse with a partner. It may also be spread by contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, including blood, saliva, vaginal fluid, semen or any fluid expelled from a weeping herpes blister.
The virus is passed onto the other person through tiny breaks in the mucous membranes or skin. Because viruses are very small, herpes can easily spread even if the breaks are only microscopic. This means you cannot conduct a visual inspection of a partner and guarantee that they will not catch the disease.
It is also worth noting that while the virus is generally passed on during the phase when the blisters are visible on the skin, there is also the possibility of infection spreading even when blisters are not showing.
This is due to something called asymptomatic shedding. This is where the virus continues to shed into bodily fluids even when dormant. This kind of shedding is most common during the first 12 months of herpes infections. However, it may continue throughout the life of the infection and you cannot guarantee that because you have no visible sores that your partner will not be infected.
In a monogamous relationship, a female partner carries a substantially higher risk of contracting herpes from an infected male partner than vice-versa.
What Other Information Should I Know
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your response to acyclovir.
Do not let anyone else take or use your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Does Valacyclovir Each Day Keep Hsv
Am Fam Physician. 2004 Oct 1 70:1363-1364.
Sexual transmission of herpes simplex virus type 2 has been demonstrated from both symptomatic and asymptomatic reactivations in the infected partner. Daily antiviral therapy has been shown to decrease the frequency and amount of genital HSV shedding. Corey and colleagues tested daily valacyclovir for efficacy in preventing sexual transmission of HSV-2 from infected persons to their uninfected partners.
The study enrolled monogamous, immunocompetent, heterosexual couples in which only one partner was infected with HSV-2, as demonstrated by Western blot analysis of antiHSV-2 serum antibodies. Of the initial 4,034 couples screened, 1,385 asymptomatic partners already had serologic evidence of HSV-2 infection and were ineligible, and 799 of the source partners were symptomatic but had negative HSV-2 serology. After informed consent, 352 couples declined to participate, and 14 persons declined to take the study medicines, leaving 1,484 couples available for randomization.
The authors conclude that daily valacyclovir halves the transmission rate of HSV-2 to an uninfected partner over an eight-month period.
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One Option For Ongoing Therapy: Taking Drugs Regularly
Some people with genital herpes choose to take antiviral medication daily to reduce the number of symptom outbreaks they have. In some cases, daily therapy prevents outbreaks completely.
Numerous studies over the years have demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of all three of the approved antivirals used to treat genital herpes.
Studies have also shown that daily antiviral therapy reduces the rate of transmission from an HSV-2 infected person to an uninfected partner of the opposite sex.
Daily therapy also lowers the odds of infecting other people if you have multiple sex partners or if you are a man who has sex with men.
The drugs work both for people who have had herpes symptoms and for those whose blood tests show they have an HSV-2 infection but who have never had symptoms.
Some people choose to take antiviral drugs only as needed, for outbreaks that occur after the first one. For this to work, you need to start taking the medicine within one day of sores cropping up or during the time period that comes before some outbreaks.
During the prodrome, you may feel
- Burning in the area where the virus first entered your body
- Itching or tingling in that area
- Pain in your back, buttocks, thighs, or knees
Your doctor will probably give you a prescription you can fill and keep handy for timely use, and tell you to start taking the drugs just as soon as symptoms begin.
Myth #: Herpes Is A Really Big Deal
This one is my favorite, having watched a number of friends be traumatized by diagnoses, only to later realize that ultimately, herpes is not that big of a deal.
For starters, Dr. Dweck tells me that one-third of the sexually-active population has been exposed to herpes. Hawkins offers more specific, but equally staggering, numbers as well she says that one-half of the population has oral herpes and one-sixth of the population aged 14 to 49 has genital herpes.
What’s more, my OB/GYN points out that the virus is more so inconvenient than it is nefarious, meaning that while outbreaks, especially your first, can be painful, they’re not doing you any health harm overall. And if you do have significant recurrent outbreaks, there’s a medication for that.
For all of these reasons, pros tend to agree that the outsized stigma around herpes is unwarranted and often, it’s the worst part of being infected. In reality, there’s no reason herpes should make someone feel like a social pariah or that it should remain such a closeted, shameful condition.
“The fact that so many people are living with this and having the same experiences but we dont talk about it, its really a shame because we could definitely support each other in ways were currently not doing,” says Hawkins. “Herpes is, of course, not something people would want, but its not as big of a deal as people make it out to be.”
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To Use Buccal Acyclovir Follow These Steps:
If the delayed-release buccal tablet comes off within the first 6 hours of application, reapply the same tablet. If it still will not stick, then apply a new tablet. If you accidentally swallow the tablet within the first 6 hours of application, drink a glass of water and place a new tablet on your gum. If the tablet falls off or is swallowed 6 or more hours after application, do not apply a new tablet until your next regular time.
Patients Materials And Methods
Subjects and setting. Healthy men and women who were seropositive for HSV-2 were considered for enrollment. Patients were eligible if they had a diagnosis of a first episode of genital HSV-2 infection 6 months before enrollment. Alternatively, patients were eligible if they had longstanding genital herpes infection and a recurrence rate of 6 episodes during the preceding year. Patients who had been receiving recent suppressive therapy were eligible if they reported 6 recurrences/year before initiating suppressive therapy. Suppressive therapy was stopped for at least 1 month before enrollment, and at least 1 recurrence was required during that time. Subjects were excluded if they were immunocompromised, HIV positive, had abnormal renal or hepatic function, or had a history of malabsorption or of ocular HSV. Women of childbearing potential had to use an effective method of contraception throughout the study. Study participants were recruited by newspaper advertisements, flyers, and local health clinics at 2 centers: the University of Washington Virology Research Clinic in Seattle and the Westover Heights Clinic in Portland, Oregon. Enrollment took place between August 1995 and July 1996. The protocol was approved by human subjects review committees, and all subjects gave written, informed consent.
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Herpes Pregnancy And Newborn Infants
Herpes can pose serious risks for a pregnant woman and her baby. The risk is greatest for mothers with a first-time infection because the virus can be transmitted to the infant during childbirth. Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend using specific diagnostic tests for women in labor to determine the risk of transmission. Babies born to mothers infected with genital herpes are often treated with the antiviral drug acyclovir, which can help suppress the virus.
Herpes Myths To Stop Freaking Out About
A surprising number of people you know probably have herpes.
Shocked? You shouldnt be, since the virus is very common. According to the World Health Organization, 3.7 billion people under age 50 have herpes simplex virus type 1 thats 67 percent of the global population in that age bracket. Another 417 million people between ages 15 and 49 worldwide have herpes simplex virus type 2 .
Many people consider HSV-1 more benign, but it turns out theres not much difference between the two types of virus. While its true that HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted disease and can cause genital sores or blisters, type 1 can do the same thing.
One big misconception is that cold sores are caused by HSV-1 and genital herpes are always type 2, but thats not always the case, says Sarah Vensel, a physician assistant in San Francisco. Cold sores are so common theyve been normalized at this point. But genital herpes is sometimes the exact same virus just in a different location.
Not only is herpes incredibly common its also totally manageable. Allow us to set your mind at ease and debunk three widespread herpes myths:
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Myth #: You Can’t Get Herpes If You’re Not Sexually Active
Herpes can be passed from skin-to-skin contact that isn’t sexual in nature, Hawkins tells me. “If you look at the leotards that wrestlers wear, if you have upper thigh genital herpes in an area thats low enough that it shows under the leotard, someone can get it, too,” Hawkins tells me.
With that said, Hawkins tells me you don’t need to worry about getting it from trying on a swimsuit or sharing a towel, because the virus doesn’t live outside of the body for long. “Now if youre trying on bathing suits without any underwear underneath, there are plenty of wonderful infections that you can get even if herpes is not one of them,” she says. “People are still strongly advised to make sure theyre using proper hygienic options.”
Suppressive Valacyclovir Therapy To Reduce Genital Herpes Transmission: Good Public Health Policy
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The Elegance Of Virology: How Acyclovir Slows Down Herpes
Earlier this month I wrote about an experimental antiviral vaginal gel that achieved modest success in preventing outbreaks of genital herpes in women Quite a few people read the article, so I’ve followed it up with a more detailed look at how herpes medications help control infections. The biochemistry of how these drugs work is fascinating.
Of the two prescription drugs approved by the FDA to treat or prevent herpes simplex outbreaks , acyclovir is more commonly used . Although many people take the drug, few understand why it works. The details of acyclovir’s mechanism of action give us a wonderful example of the interaction of chemical and biological science as it pertains to drugs. It’s also pretty cool.
The entry of HSV into its host cell triggers a series of events in which the virus “reprograms” the DNA of the cell, forcing it to make viral DNA instead of cellular DNA. This is one of several essential steps required for viral replication without the production of viral DNA new virus particles cannot be made.
One of the enzymes that HSV carries into the host cell is called DNA polymerase. Its function is assembling an enormous number of simple nitrogenous bases – the four building blocks of DNA – into long strands, which will become new DNA. DNA polymerase is essential for the replication of herpes viruses. If DNA polymerase is not functioning the virus cannot grow.
Figure 1. Double-stranded DNA biosynthesis. Images: Wikipedia.
Herpes And Newborn Infants
Herpes infection in a newborn can cause a range of symptoms, including skin rash, fevers, mouth sores, and eye infections. If left untreated, neonatal herpes is a very serious and even life-threatening condition. Neonatal herpes can spread to the brain and central nervous system, causing encephalitis and meningitis. It also can lead to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and death. Herpes can also spread to internal organs, such as the liver and lungs.
Infants infected with herpes are treated with acyclovir, an antiviral drug. They usually receive several weeks of intravenous acyclovir treatment, often followed by several months of oral acyclovir. It is important to treat babies quickly, before the infection spreads to the brain and other organs.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Valtrex And Valcyte
The side effect profile of Valtrex is similar to that of acyclovir .
Common side effects are:
Valcyte can cause serious side effects, including:
- Blood and bone marrow problems. Valcyte can affect the bone marrow, lowering the amount of your white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets, and may cause serious and life-threatening problems.
- Kidney failure. Kidney failure may occur in people who are elderly, people who take Valcyte with certain other medicines, or people who are not adequately hydrated.
- Fertility problems. Valcyte may lower sperm count in males and cause fertility problems. Valcyte may also cause fertility problems in women. Talk to your doctor if this is a concern for you.
- Birth defects. Valcyte causes birth defects in animals. It is not known if Valcyte causes birth defects in people. If you are a female who can become pregnant, use effective birth control during treatment with Valcyte and for at least 30 days after treatment. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor before starting treatment with Valcyte. If you are a female who can become pregnant, have a pregnancy test done before starting Valcyte.
- Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant during treatment with Valcyte.
- Males should use condoms during treatment with Valcyte, and for at least 90 days after treatment, if their female sexual partner can become pregnant. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about birth control.
Common side effects
Daily Therapy Cuts Herpes Transmission Risk
Taking Valtrex Once a Day Reduces Risk of Spreading Herpes
Dec. 31, 2003 — People with herpes who take an antiviral drug once a day can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners by nearly 50%.
A new study shows that daily therapy with the antiviral drug Valtrex significantly lowers the risk of transmitting genital herpes among heterosexual couples in which one partner is infected with the herpes simplex virus type 2 .
Valtrex is commonly used to treat outbreaks of genital herpes, but preliminary results of this study prompted the FDA to approve a second indication for Valtrex in reducing the risk of transmitting the disease to susceptible heterosexual partners. The complete results appear in the Jan. 1, 2004, issue of TheNew England Journal of Medicine.
Valtrex is manufactured in the U.S. by GlaxoSmithKline. GlaxoSmithKline is a WebMD sponsor.
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Switch Medications If Necessary
Acyclovir is another antiviral drug that can be used to treat herpes virus and varicella-zoster virus infections. Neither medication is better than the other, but if someone cant tolerate Valtrex or has an underlying medical condition that prevents them from taking it, acyclovir is another good option. You can compare the medications here.
For Children 11 Years And Younger
Valtrex is not recommended for treating cold sores in children of this age group. But it can be used to treat chickenpox in children ages 2 years and older.
- Take Valtrex at the first sign of a cold sore.
- You can take it with or without food.
- Dont take more than the prescribed number of caplets each day.
- If your child cant swallow caplets, ask your pharmacist to make the caplets into an oral suspension .
- Be sure to drink lots of water. Since your kidneys help remove the metabolized drug from your body, its important to stay hydrated to lower the risk of serious side effects, such as kidney damage.
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What Is Valtrex What Is Famvir
Valtrex is an antiviral medication used to treat shingles , genital herpes , and cold sores . Valtrex is a nucleoside analog that mimics a building block of DNA and stops the spread of herpes virus in the body by preventing the replication of viral DNA necessary for viruses to multiply. Other nucleoside analogs include acyclovir and famciclovir . Valacyclovir is a “prodrug,” that in itself is not active. It is converted to acyclovir in the body and it is the acyclovir that is active against the viruses. Valacyclovir is active against the same viruses as acyclovir, but it has a longer duration of action than acyclovir and may be taken fewer times each day.