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Ask Dr. K

I hear so much about new herpes medications and it sounds like they can be really helpful for some people. Can the virus still be spread if a person is taking drug therapies? And can you get herpes from a partner if they are not having a current outbreak?

Herpes can be transmitted even when a person has no symptoms, although the risk of transmission is much higher when sores are present. Acyclovir (Zovirax) and valacyclovir (Valtrex), two of the new drug therapies, have been proven effective when taken daily to reduce the risk of transmission of herpes to sex partners. The most common short-term side effects of these drugs are nausea and headaches. Thus far, no long-term side effects have been named. In addition to prescription drugs, a healthy lifestyle, consisting of a nutritious diet, moderate exercise and plenty of rest can help prevent recurrences of herpes in people who are infected.

Condoms can reduce herpes transmission from an infected partner, although not completely because not all affected areas can be covered by a condom. Abstaining from sex during acute outbreaks will also reduce transmission risk. Of course, if both partners are infected, herpes cannot be transmitted any further in that relationship.

To your health,
Dr. K

Last modified on Tuesday, June 03, 2008.
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