I want to know if the drug Valtrex for controlling Herpes Simplex Virus One (HSV 1) and Herpes Simplex Virus Two (HSV 2) needs to be taken for a period of time before it is effective or if after one dose, it is effective on reducing the number of outbreaks. Thank you.
Dr. Judith Hersh says: Antiviral medications should be effective in reducing asymptomatic viral shedding and frequency of recurrences by 7 days after the start of therapy; however, there’s more to it than that. The medication valcyclovir (brand name Valtrex) or another antiviral medication has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control for individuals who test positive for HSV 2 whose partners are HSV 2 neg. Daily suppressive therapy is not recommended for individuals who have HSV 1, even if their outbreaks are genital and not on the mouth. Most viral shedding occurs just prior to a break out and while lesions are present. Unfortunately, studies have shown viral shedding even in people who are not having either the “precursor” symptoms or actual lesions. Because of this, male/female condom use is still recommended for couples in which one partner has a history of HSV 2 and the other(s) does not. Antiviral therapy is most useful in decreasing the number of outbreaks as well as the shedding of virus during asymptomatic periods. Using a daily antiviral agent can decrease transmission of HSV by about 75%. Suppressive therapy can decrease the number of outbreaks by 70-80% in individuals who have six or more outbreaks each year.