Once you get it, it’s with you for life—so about 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. has genital herpes. Two prescription-only medications, acyclovir and valacyclovir, help make outbreaks of the virus less frequent and less painful. Acyclovir and valacyclovir are good at reducing the amount of herpes virus present in the genital area, so researchers wondered if a higher dose might eliminate the virus altogether, or at least prevent it from spreading to others. Sadly, a new study in The Lancet showed that higher doses didn’t have this effect. The researchers detected the virus about 3% of the time even in people taking high doses, which is enough exposure to the virus for it to spread to another person. Bottom line? The medications we’ve got now are good at treating outbreaks of herpes, but there’s still no cure. Hopefully this research will inspire new efforts to develop better herpes treatment and prevention. In the meantime, condoms, condoms, and did we mention condoms?
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