[Question #5270] Herpes 2 (Genital)

23 months ago
A new girlfriend wants to become intimate but she has Herpes 2.  She told me that she takes Valtrex 2 x 500mgs daily to suppress the virus, hasn't had an outbreak in over 16 years and that the Valtrex reduced "shedding" to virtually zero.  She also said that according to the latest research, the risk of infection to me with her suppression therapy and using condoms was .2% and .4% without condoms, which was effectively zero in either situation. Are her comments accurate? Please also provide references to the latest online research that validates (or not) her assertions. Thank-you very kindly.
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
23 months ago
Her statistic aren't quite right but not that far off.  With no condoms and no medication, having sex about twice per week, about 4 out of 100 men would become infected per year.  With condoms, it drops to about 2 men out of 100 and with daily medication, it drops to about 1 man in 100 becoming infected in a year.  These are all averages of transmission trials which you can find on pubmed - some studies show less, some more.  In someone who does not have outbreaks, these numbers may be a little lower.

Terri
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23 months ago
Thank you Terri.  Does Valtrex, in fact,  reduce shedding to almost zero?  She has been on the drug for 18 years and to her knowledge has never infected anyone.  With no outbreaks I understand shedding would be the only way to get herpes. She says that in the past she could tell if she was shedding but hasn't for many years and is thus confident that she no longer does shed. Is there evidence that that is possible?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
23 months ago
No.  It reduces viral shedding by about 50-70%.  No one can tell if they are asymptomatically shedding - that is the nature of not being symptomatic.  A person who has had no outbreaks in that long is likely to shed little, especially on medicine, but we cannot say zero.

Terri
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