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Genital Herpes

Q:What is suppressive therapy for genital herpes?

Suppressive therapy is taking medication daily to help keep future outbreaks from occurring, rather than waiting for an outbreak to begin treatment.

Q:I’ve treated outbreaks as soon as I even feel a tingling. Is suppressive therapy different from this?

Yes. Suppressive therapy means you take medication every day to suppress outbreaks before they occur, rather than waiting to take it when you sense symptoms, or after the outbreak occurs.

Q:How do I know if suppressive therapy is right for me?

If your outbreaks cause you emotional distress, interfere with your social life, or if you experience frequent or painful outbreaks, daily suppressive therapy may be right for you.

Q:What does my doctor or other healthcare provider need to know to decide if suppressive therapy is right for me?

Tell your doctor or other healthcare provider you want to know about suppressive therapy! Be sure to tell him or her how genital herpes outbreaks impact your life. Any or all of these issues below may be reason for your doctor or other healthcare provider to place you on suppressive therapy.

  • If outbreaks are emotionally burdensome or upsetting, or if they bring you down or worry you
  • If outbreaks interfere with social relationships
  • If outbreaks occur often
  • If outbreaks are painful
  • If the anticipation of an outbreak makes you tense, anxious, or distracted
Q:Can you spread genital herpes even when you’re not having an outbreak?

The genital herpes virus can still be spread through the skin although there are no visible signs of an outbreak. This is called asymptomatic shedding. Up to 80% of people catch genital herpes from an infected partner who has no signs and symptoms. What’s more, because outbreaks are not always obvious, nine out of ten people who have genital herpes don’t even know it.

To help prevent infecting partners, avoid sexual contact when lesions and/or symptoms are present. And since it is possible to shed the virus without having signs and symptoms of an outbreak, always use condoms containing nonoxynol-9 during intercourse to reduce the risk of transmission.

To prevent spreading the virus to other parts of your body, try not to touch your sores. If you do touch them, wash your hands immediately with soap and water.

Q:What is VALTREX and how does it work?

VALTREX is the only once-a-day prescription medication that can suppress future genital herpes outbreaks in adults with normal immune systems. While there is no cure for genital herpes, VALTREX works by disrupting the process by which the herpes virus makes copies of itself and spreads to other cells in the body.

In a large clinical study of suppressive therapy for genital herpes, which included over 1400 patients, VALTREX was proven effective in suppressing genital herpes outbreaks. In those patients who experienced a high frequency of outbreaks (6 or more per year) prior to entering this study, over half of the patients (55%) did not have a single outbreak for 6 months while taking one 1000 mg VALTREX Caplet once-a-day, while only 7% of those taking placebo (sugar pill) did not have an outbreak in 6 months. At the end of a year, one third of these patients taking VALTREX still had not had a single outbreak compared to only 4% of those taking placebo (sugar pill). Patients with nine or fewer outbreaks showed comparable results with VALTREX 500 mg once daily. There are no data on the safety or effectiveness of suppressive therapy of more than 1 year’s duration.

Q: If I take medication, can I still spread genital herpes to others?

No drug has been proven to prevent the spread of herpes infection to other people. You or your partner should always use condoms containing nonoxynol-9, and avoid sexual contact during an outbreak.

Q:What was the most common side effect with VALTREX?

If any side effects occur with VALTREX, they are generally mild. In studies where one VALTREX 1 g Caplet was taken every day for up to a year, the frequency of side effects was similar to placebo (sugar pill). The most commonly reported side effect was headache (35% vs. 34% for placebo).

There are no data on the safety or effectiveness of suppressive therapy of more than 1 year’s duration.

Q:What dosage of VALTREX® (valacyclovir HCl) should I take?

The recommended dosage for suppression is one 1000 mg (1g) VALTREX Caplet to be taken once a day. If you average nine or fewer outbreaks per year, an alternative dose is one 500 mg VALTREX Caplet to be taken once a day. Only your doctor or other healthcare provider will know which dosage is right for you, so be sure to openly discuss the frequency and severity of your outbreaks with him or her.

Q:Can you substitute a generic for VALTREX® (valacyclovir HCl)?

There is no generic substitute for VALTREX.

Q:Is there anything else my doctor should know?

If your immune system is not normal because of advanced HIV disease, bone marrow transplant or kidney transplant, make sure your doctor knows this.

Q:Can I take VALTREX® (valacyclovir HCl) Caplets to treat outbreaks as they occur?

Yes. VALTREX is not just for suppressive therapy. If you prefer to treat outbreaks as they occur, VALTREX is a proven effective treatment for each outbreak–just one 500 mg caplet twice a day for five days. You should begin taking VALTREX at the first sign or symptom of an outbreak. There are no data on effectiveness of treatment started more than 24 hours after the onset of signs or symptoms.

Discuss this information with your doctor or other healthcare provider. Ask your doctor or other healthcare provider if suppressive therapy is right for you. Your doctor or other healthcare provider will need to know how upsetting, painful, or disruptive to your life your recurrent outbreaks are, and how severe or frequent they can be. Ask your doctor or other healthcare provider if VALTREX once-a-day is right for you.

VALTREX is intended for adults with normal immune systems.