Why Isnt There A Cure For Herpes Already
No company has managed to successfully develop a commercially ready herpes vaccine, however, several HSV vaccines have undergone phase I and II trials. Until recently, at least three pharmaceutical companies were overseeing clinical trials for herpes vaccine candidates. All three companies recently abandoned their research after failing to meet their primary endpoints.
How does herpes continue to hoodwink experienced researchers and scientists, when other devastating diseases like the measles, mumps, hepatitis B, and whooping cough have been nearly eliminated?
It all comes down to the unique behavior of the herpes simplex virus.
Herpes is a complex virus that knows exactly how to evade the immune systems grasp. It lies dormant in nerve cells for months or years at a time, then emerges without any warning to reactivate the infection. In this way, herpes behaves like a cancer that lurks in the body undetected until the damage is already done.
To make matters worse, as long as just a minuscule amount of infection remains after an outbreak fades, herpes can easily survive and reappear in future outbreaks.
Pharmaceutical companies are eager to uncover a cure for herpes, but they must first overcome an extremely long and expensive research process.
Herpes Causes And Risk Factors
Causes of herpes include acquiring the virus through sexual contact, coupled with immune system suppression and sometimes nutritional deficiencies.
HSV-1 is primarily transmitted by oral-oral contact. On the other hand, HSV-2 is considered a sexually transmitted disease and usually passed during oral or vaginal sex.
A scary finding is that more cases of genital herpes than ever before are now being caused by HSV-1 , and about 85 percent of people with genital herpes dont even know it. Studies show that about 50 percent of the new genital herpes infections in young adults are due to HSV-1 and about 40 percent in older adults. The fact that most people dont ever find out theyre infected is one of the reasons that transmission rates are steadily climbing.
Risk factors for acquiring herpes include:
- Kissing someone who has symptoms of an active herpes virus
- Engaging in any form of unprotected sex
- Having sex with multiple partners
- Spreading the virus through contact with cold sores on the eyes, secretions on the fingers, or ulcers/sores on buttocks and upper thighs
- Having certain other illnesses that lower immune function, such as HIV/AIDS, an autoimmune disorder or hepatitis
- Eating a poor diet that causes nutrient deficiencies and lowered immunity
- Smoking cigarettes, drinking high amounts of alcohol or abusing drugs
Is It Possible To Cure Herpes
Unfortunately, herpes has no cure as the virus invades your immune system once you are infected with the virus, you have it for life. This is the same for whether you have oral or genital herpes.
An infection doesn’t mean symptoms are guaranteed most oral or genital infections dont cause any symptoms. Its very common for people to have come into contact with the virus at some point in their lives and carry the virus without ever having any symptoms. The virus lays dormant in your body after your initial infection and can reactivate several times a year or even months or years later. The time in which the virus reactivates varies from person to person. People do not spontaneously cure themselves of herpes.
Not everyone who has been infected with herpes goes on to show symptoms, or have outbreaks. The severity of outbreaks also varies from person to person and is hard to predict.
Also Check: How To Get Herpes Type 2
Why Creating A Cure Is Difficult
Experts suggest that even if antiviral drugs destroy the active parts of the infection, it only takes a small amount of the virus to hide in the nerve cells and become dormant for the herpes virus to continue.
To find a treatment, scientists need to understand further the mechanism that enables the infection to hide. By preventing this mechanism, they might be able to tackle the whole infection before parts go dormant.
Some medications may reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms and lower the chances of passing the infection on to others. Current antiviral medications to treat herpes include the following medications:
first form of treatment for HSV infections. A doctor may treat a skin or mucous membrane infection with oral acyclovir, provided the person has a competent immune system.
People with high levels of stress or trauma may experience more frequent recurrences of genital herpes. In this case, a doctor may advise psychotherapy and counseling.
Some home remedies, such as petroleum gel or essential oils, may alleviate the discomfort that herpes lesions cause.
Will There Be A Cure For Herpes With Crispr
A CRISPR herpes cure is possible, but not anytime soon.
In December 2019, scientists from Harvard Medical School successfully disrupted the herpes simplex virus for the first time and identified weak spots where the virus may be susceptible to gene editing. However, that accomplishment is only the beginning of the process for a CRISPR herpes cure.
As explained by study lead investigator David Knipe, This is an exciting first stepone that suggests it is possible to permanently silence lifelong infectionsbut much more work remains to be done.
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Herpes Breakout Fast
What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they’ll always have the virus and can give it to others. But you arent alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the U.S. and worldwide. If you have herpes, you should:
- Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
- Talk about your illness with your doctor.
If you have herpes, you can still:
- Have sex if you use a condom or dental dam , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should ask your doctor if this is the right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. People with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your healthcare provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
A Cure For Herpes There Is Progress To Report
It takes a persistent scientist to stop a persistent virus.
A decade ago, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center virologist Dr. Keith Jerome began exploring the idea that lifelong infections with herpes viruses might be cured by using the DNA-cutting tools of gene therapy.
Initial research showed these techniques could knock out small quantities of latent virus, and the work of improving the results fell to Jeromeâs senior staff scientist, Dr. Martine Aubert. Five years ago, the team reported they had damaged the genes of 2%-4% of herpes virus in infected mice. Aubertâs work was an important proof of principle, but far short of a cure.
Nevertheless, she persisted.
On Aug. 18, the team led by Jerome and Aubert published a paper in Nature Communications showing that, through a series of incremental improvements on their original method, they had destroyed up to 95% of herpes virus lurking in certain nerve clusters of mice.
âThis is the first time that anybody has been able to go in and actually eliminate most of herpes in a body,â said Jerome, who is also spearheading research at Fred Hutch and the University of Washington on COVID-19. âIt is a completely different approach to herpes therapy than anybodyâs ever had before.â
Don’t Miss: How To Relieve Herpes Outbreak
Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes as long as there isnt an open lesion on your chest or breast. If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.
Is There Anything I Can Do To Relieve The Symptoms Myself
In some women, genital herpes blisters cause pain when urinating . Many of them find it soothing to pee while sitting in warm, shallow water . You can do this using special tubs that fit into toilet bowls. They are available at a reasonable price, for instance from pharmacies or on the internet. Its best not to use soaps or bath additives because they can irritate the affected area even more. Other things you can do to avoid irritating it further include wearing loose-fitting clothes and underwear made out of fabrics that have a smooth surface.
Painkillers such as ibuprofen are an option if the blisters become very painful.
Topical antiviral treatments such as creams or ointments dont provide any relief, but they can increase the risk of viral resistance. Experts advise against using topical treatments for genital herpes.
Read Also: Can I Put Cold Sore Cream On Genital Herpes
Read Also: Can You Get Herpes On Your Chin
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Valacyclovir Tablets
Kidney failure and nervous system problems are not common, but can be serious in some patients taking valacyclovir tablets. Nervous system problems include aggressive behavior, unsteady movement, shaky movements, confusion, speech problems, hallucinations , seizures and coma.
Kidney failure and nervous system problems have happened in patients who already have kidney disease and in elderly patients whose kidneys do not work well due to age. Always tell your healthcare provider if you have kidney problems before taking valacyclovir tablets.
Common side effects of valacyclovir tablets in adults include headache, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and dizziness. Side effects in HIV-infected adults include headache, tiredness and rash. These side effects usually are mild and do not cause patients to stop taking valacyclovir tablets.
Other less common side effects in adults include painful periods in women, joint pain, depression, low blood cell counts and changes in tests that measure how well the liver and kidneys work. The most common side effect seen in children < 18 years of age was headache.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you develop any side effects that concern you. These are not all the side effects of valacyclovir tablets. For more information ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
Donât Miss: What Do Doctors Prescribe For Herpes
Types Of Antiviral Drugs
There are three oral antivirals recommended for the treatment of oral or genital herpes:
|Famvir, 250 mg||Twice daily|
Preventing genital herpes recurrence is important as it reduces the risk of HIV. According to the CDC, having an active genital herpes infection increases the risk of HIV by 200% to 300%.
Recommended Reading: Where To Get Herpes Blood Test
Medicare Coverage Of Std Treatments And Screenings
If youre seeking Medicare coverage for STD treatments, scroll down to the section on prescription drug coverage. According to the National institutes of Health, STD treatments generally include prescription drugs, such as antibiotics.
Prevention and screening may help you avoid having to get STD treatments. Medicare may cover screening for sexually transmitted diseases , also known as sexually transmitted infections , under Medicare Part B as a preventive service benefit.
While it may not cover STD treatment, Medicare Part B may cover screening lab tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and/or hepatitis B. These screening lab tests may be covered if you are pregnant and/or who have an increased risk for an STD. Medicare will also cover short counseling sessions on STD prevention to those at risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting screened for an STD if you:
- Have had multiple sex partners
- Have a new sex partner
- Have a sex partner whos infected with an STD
- Are a man who has had sex with men
- Use street drugs and share your equipment with anyone
STD screenings and behavioral counseling may be provided at no cost if your doctor accepts Medicare assignment and determines you are at an increased risk for contracting an STD. If you receive behavioral counseling, you must receive the counseling from a primary care practitioner in a primary care setting, such as a doctors office, or it might not be covered.
Education Is An Integral Part Of Herpes Treatment
If you have genital herpes, its important for you to get educated about herpes and have the opportunity to ask questions in a supportive environment.
Becoming informed will help you learn to cope with the illness. It will also help you prevent sexual transmission of the illness, or transmission to an infant during a pregnancy.
Herpes has a tremendous psychosocial overlay. But knowledge about it and understanding about how well it can be managed can reduce that, says Handsfield.
Your doctor may be able to provide you with all the information you need, or you may choose to seek counseling from a mental health professional or at a clinic that specializes in sexual health, such as Planned Parenthood.
If you have a regular sexual partner, that person should also have the chance to learn about herpes and ask any questions they may have about it.
Recommended Reading: Can You Date With Herpes
You May Like: Where Can Herpes Appear On The Body
Side Effects And Follow
Side effects with these herpes drugs are considered mild, and health experts believe these drugs are safe in the long term. Acyclovir is the oldest of the three, and its safety has been documented in people taking suppressive therapy for several years.
People taking suppressive therapy should see their doctor at least once a year to decide if they should continue. You may find taking the pills every day to be inconvenient, the drugs may not work for you, or you may naturally have fewer outbreaks as time goes on. Your doctor can help you make treatment choices to suit your needs.
Treatment For Genital Herpes
There are three antiviral medications that are FDA-approved for the treatment of genital herpes:
- Acyclovir: The oldest antiviral medication for herpes is acyclovir. It has been available since 1982 in a topical form and sold since 1985 in pill form. Acyclovir has been shown to be safe in persons who have used it continuously for as long as 10 years.
- Valacyclovir: A newer drug, valacyclovir, actually uses acyclovir as its active ingredient. This medication delivers acyclovir more efficiently so that the body absorbs much of the drug, which has the advantage of taking the medication fewer times during the day.
- Famciclovir: Famciclovir uses penciclovir as its active ingredient to stop HSV from replicating. Like valacyclovir, it is well absorbed, persists for a longer time in the body, and can be taken less frequently than acyclovir.
Antiviral medication is commonly prescribed for patients having a first episode of genital herpes, but they can be used for recurrent episodes as well. There are two kinds of treatment regimens: episodic therapy and suppressive therapy.
Read Also: Where Can I Get Tested For Herpes
Does Suppressive Therapy For Herpes Work
Asked by: Dr. Alexandra Prosacco I
Suppressive therapy reduces frequency of genital herpes recurrences by 70%80% among patients who have frequent recurrences . Persons receiving such therapy often report having experienced no symptomatic outbreaks. Suppressive therapy also is effective for patients with less frequent recurrences.
Recommended Reading: Can I Get Herpes Without Intercourse
Why Is This Medication Prescribed
Acyclovir is used to decrease pain and speed the healing of sores or blisters in people who have varicella , herpes zoster , and first-time or repeat outbreaks of genital herpes . Acyclovir is also sometimes used to prevent outbreaks of genital herpes in people who are infected with the virus. Acyclovir is in a class of antiviral medications called synthetic nucleoside analogues. It works by stopping the spread of the herpes virus in the body. Acyclovir will not cure genital herpes and may not stop the spread of genital herpes to other people.
You May Like: How To Get Rid Of Oral Herpes
Read Also: How To Self Diagnose Genital Herpes
Use The Luminance Red
The Luminance RED is a breakthrough cold sore treatment that harnesses powerful light technology to shorten healing time and decrease the frequency of new outbreaks.
This FDA-registered device nourishes the skin with red light, which is metabolized to accelerate the bodys healing process and strengthen its defenses against future attacks. Regular use of the Luminance RED not only shortens the healing time of active outbreaks, but it can prevent future outbreaks altogether!
The Luminance RED was designed with ideal wavelength and irradiance specifications to maximize efficiency in treating and preventing cold sore outbreaks. Thanks to the Luminance RED, light therapy has become one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent unwanted cold sore and genital herpes outbreaks.
When You Must Not Take Them
- Do not take Valtrex tablets if you have ever had an allergic reaction to valaciclovir, aciclovir or any of the ingredients listed at the end of this leaflet.
- Symptoms of an allergic reaction may be mild or severe. They usually include some or all of the following: wheezing, swelling of the lips/mouth, difficulty in breathing, hay fever, lumpy rash or fainting.
- Do not take Valtrex tablets if you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breast-feeding, unless your doctor says you should.
- Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of using Valtrex tablets when pregnant and during breast-feeding.
- Do not take Valtrex tablets after the expiry date printed on the pack.
- If you take it after the expiry date has passed, it may not work as well.
- Do not take Valtrex tablets if the packaging is torn or shows signs of tampering.
- If you are not sure whether you should be taking Valtrex, talk to your doctor.
Also Check: What Kind Of Cream Can You Put On Genital Herpes