Genital herpes is mostly caused by HSV2 or Herpes simplex virus-type 2. HSV 2 is extremely contagious in nature and spreads through secretions from the genitals and mouth. It is important to know about the treatment for HSV2. The virus is transmitted by direct contact, through sex or skin contact with an open sore. Most people with HSV 2 infection experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Genital ulcer or sores is the commonest sign of this infection but patients of HSV2 infection can also get fever and body aches. Genital herpes caused by HSV2 affects women more than men.
Treatment for HSV 2
Treatment for HSV2 is quite effective in managing the infection and keeping the symptoms at bay. People affected by HSV 2 or genital herpes can stay symptom-free for longer periods by taking treatment for HSV2, which use antiviral drugs. These drugs help to reduce the duration and severity of the symptoms when they flare up.
Although drug therapy is not a cure, it however makes living with this condition a lot easier. The 3 major drugs commonly used to treat the symptoms of HSV 2, include valacyclovir (Valtrex), Famciclovir (Famvir), and acyclovir (Zovirax). These medicines are generally given in pill form, but in cases of severe HSV2, acyclovir can be administered intravenously.
While treatment for HSV 2 is available, the use of drugs often depends on the phase and severity of the infection.
Initial Treatment of HSV 2
When first diagnosed with genital herpes, patients generally report symptoms like sores. For this, the treatment for HSV 2 includes a small course, i.e. 7 to 10 days, of antiviral therapy. This helps to relieve the sores and prevent its aggravation. In case, the sores don’t heal in the expected time, the doctor may advise to take the drug for a longer duration.
After the initial treatment, the patients and the physician together decide the best way of taking antiviral therapies. Two of the commonest options are:
Intermittent Treatment of HSV 2
The physician may prescribe an antiviral drug as a treatment for HSV 2, to help manage the situation of another flare-up. This is known as intermittent therapy. The patient can take the pills for 2 to 5 days once they notice sores or feel like they are near the onset of an outbreak. Sores generally heal and disappear on their own, but by taking these medications one can lessen the severity and duration of the symptoms.
Suppressive Treatment of HSV 2
Patients who suffer frequent outbreaks may be advised to take an antiviral drug, daily. This is known as suppressive therapy, which too is an important part of the treatment for HSV 2. Patients who experience more than 6 outbreaks a year, can reduce this number by 70% to 80% simply by undergoing suppressive therapy. A lot of people who take antiviral drugs everyday do not have outbreaks at all.
There is no fixed number of annual outbreaks that can determine when a HSV 2 patient should begin with suppressive therapy. Rather than the number of outbreaks, it is the frequency of the outbreaks and their severity, which help to decide when to initiate this therapy and treatment for HSV 2 is planned accordingly. Taking suppressive therapy everyday also helps to decrease the risk of sexual transmission of the virus to the patient’s partner. Antiviral drugs decrease viral shedding, when the virus replicates and multiplies itself on the dermal surface.
Side Effects of Treatment of HSV 2
Treatment for HSV 2 can bring about certain side effects. However, these are mild side-effects and these drugs can be safely used, when taken as advised. Acyclovir is the one of oldest drug for HSV2 and it has been considered extremely safe for use by people taking suppressive therapy for many years.
Patients taking suppressive therapy must visit their doctor at least once a year to decide if they should continue with the therapy or not. While some people may find taking these pills daily to be an inconvenient job, some may not find these drugs to be so effective, and there may be others who may naturally have lesser number of outbreaks with time. So, it is best to follow medical advice and continue regular check-ups, as advised.
Things to Remember
Individuals with HSV 2 infection should refrain from sexual activity when experiencing symptoms of genital herpes. This infection is the most contagious during an outbreak of sores. However, effective treatment for HSV 2 is available, only if medical aid is sought in time. The correct and regular use of latex condoms can help decrease the risk of spreading genital herpes. Pregnant women experiencing symptoms of this illness should inform their doctor about the same without any delay.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Genital Herpes: https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes-detailed.htm
- American Sexual Health Association – Genital Herpes: https://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/herpes/
- Mayo Clinic – Genital Herpes: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/genital-herpes/symptoms-causes/syc-20356161
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