I am a pharmacist and am often asked questions about genital herpes. So, I have some info for you and info for you to discuss with your physician.
Did you know that right now in the United States, for any school to get federal funding for sex ed. – they need to teach an ABSTINENCE ONLY program.
What?? Our society -from school, home, social and church life -has always supported education. Have we ever said, as a people – What we really need is LESS education?? No, that is completely against our beliefs as a community.
But instead the government says – Keep these kids in the dark, don’t put ideas in their head, don’t educate them too much and that’ll keep’em safe. Yeah, that’s great -wonderful idea! So, I guess the government believes less is more (except when taxes are concerned, of course !).
So, you are probably thinking -is this chic going to talk about genital herpes or not?! Well, I say no, because if you know more about herpes, you may get into some trouble….okay, I’m bluffing- here goes…
Herpes simplex virus – there are two different strains. The first one is HSV-1 which typically causes cold sores and then HSV-2 which causes genital herpes. It is possible to transfer a cold sore to the genital area and transfer genital herpes to the lip area.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease. Over 22% of Americans have HSV-2. It is one of those STDs that can be spread through sexual touching (even without penetration). Condoms can help but do not protect 100%. Very important to know is that a person with HSV-2 can be contagious even without any obvious breakout.
Just a short point here…I was on a Q&A site on the internet and found a ton of questions about STDs. They would talk about HSV2 as though it is the plague but HSV1 as “just a cold sore.” The truth is HSV1 and 2 are not that different – except one is “caught” during sex. As a society, we do not talk about sex and STDs openly (see rant above about gov’t and sex ed.). Maybe if we spoke openly (instead of ignoring them) about these taboo subjects we could make a real difference in STD transmission. Alright, I am off my soap box, let’s go on…
After becoming infected, symptoms usually start in 2-14 days. The first infection is usually the worse and can last for 2 to 3 weeks. There are usually pimple-like bumps that turn into blister-like vesicles that 90% of people say are painful. Flu-like symptoms may also occur (like fever, headache, body aches). Viral shedding (which is when it is contagious) goes on for about 12 days. Like most STDs, symptoms are often worse for women!
Once infected with the virus -it is there for life. The first year is usually the worse -averaging about 10 outbreaks. After that, the average person has 4 outbreaks in a year. However, some people get very few outbreaks throughout their lifetime. Some people have a “natural immunity” that can keep the virus under control. Stress, other sickness and some drugs can increase risk of recurrence.
The following outbreaks are usually less painful, less serious and shorter. They last an average of 7 to 10 days and viral shedding (when it is most contagious) is about 2 to 5 days.
Treatment for an outbreak:
All treatments are antiviral prescription medications. It is best to start treatment with 72 hours of start of symptoms. Treatment within 72 hours has been proven to lessen length and severity of symptoms. All of the following drugs work equally as well…decision on which one to use is based on price and frequency of dosing.
Canadian Valtrex (valacyclovir) 1000mg twice daily for 7-10 days Available only in brand (generic is suppose to be released soon) This is exactly the same as acyclovir except it has easier dosing (twice a day versus three to five times) Famvir (famciclovir) 250mg three times daily for 7 -10 days Available in a generic Zovirax (acyclovir) 400mg three times a day or 200mg five times a day for 7 -10 days Comes in a generic and the 200 mg is currently on discount lists at a few retail pharmacies. Valtrex is administered for the patients with genital herpes!
Zovirax (acyclovir) 800mg three times a day for 2 days or 400mg three times a day for 3 to 5 days Famvir (famciclovir) 125mg twice daily for 3 to 5 days Valtrex (valacyclovir) 500mg twice daily for 3 days.
Prevention of outbreaks:
If a patient has regular outbreaks and they want to avoid them, antiviral medication can be taken on a daily basis. Zovirax (acyclovir) 400mg twice daily Famvir (famciclovir) 250mg twice daily Valtrex (valacyclovir) 500 mg or 1000mg once daily Some studies have shown that OTC lysine daily (500-1000mg) can be helpful.
This is quite detailed info on the drugs but I thought it important -I have patients taking canadian Valtrex and paying a lot of money when they could take acyclovir and pay 1/10 of the price. So, talk with your physician about it!