What is Herpes?
erpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is one of the most common STDs in the world, and it is estimated that approximately one in eight people have been infected by the virus. Around 80% of those infected don’t even know they have the virus. It is impossible to know exactly how many people have the virus, since many cases are asymptomatic or never diagnosed.
What Causes Herpes?
Herpes is caused by two different viruses: HSV1 and HSV2. HSV1 usually causes sores around the mouth, while HSV2 causes genital herpes.
The infection is spread by skin-to-skin contact, and it can be transmitted through oral, vaginal, and anal sex, and kissing. It can also be spread through contact with lesions from other areas of the body. The virus goes into the body through small lesions in the skin, or through the mucosae in the mouth, penis, vagina, cervix, or anus.
After the infection, the patient might develop unspecific symptoms such as fever, fatigue, nausea, myalgia, adenopathy, along with the characteristic sores. Sores are small blisters which can sting or burn. They are usually grouped in clusters and they become crusted before healing. They don’t leave scars and resolve spontaneously. In some cases, patients won’t develop sores, instead displaying only irritated skin. Women can also present with vaginal discharge. Some people can be infected and remain asymptomatic; however, they can still spread the virus to other people.
After the first episode, the virus can become latent and remain in sensory nerves. This is known as the latent stage; afterwards, the virus can affect the skin again, usually along the pathway of the nerve where it has remained. These are the recurring episodes of the virus.
Fortunately, outbreaks tend to become less frequent and painful over time.
Risk factors for acquiring the infection include:
- Multiple sex partners
- Previous STDs
- Female gender
- Having unprotected sex
- Early age during first sexual intercourse
How is Herpes Diagnosed?
A sample will be taken from a sore and tested to determine whether HSV is present in the lesion, thus confirming the diagnosis. However, a negative result does not rule out herpes. Samples should be taken from new ulcers, where it is more likely to find the virus.
Blood tests are also carried out to determine the presence of antibodies against HSV. This test can determine if the infection is new or a repeat outbreak. It is usually very difficult, if not impossible, to point to the exact moment a person was infected with the virus. If herpes is diagnosed, tests should be carried out to discard other STDs, since they can exist as comorbidities.
Herpes Cure Information
There isn’t a cure for herpes, and although the sores heal in days or weeks, the virus never leaves the body. However, some medications can help make the outbreak pass faster.
NSAIDs such as paracetamol can be taken to reduce the discomfort during an outbreak. Ice packs, salt baths, and local anesthetic creams can also be applied.
- Penciclovir: only available for topical application
The dosage and length of treatment with these medications will depend on the location and chronicity of the lesions. Immunocompromised patients can develop life-threatening infections due to HSV (such as encephalitis or pneumonitis), and in these cases, acyclovir is often used in high doses. If acyclovir-resistant HSV is encountered, it is usually treated with cidofovir and foscarnet; however, these drugs can cause kidney toxicity. Prophylactic treatment can also be administered with antiviral drugs to prevent or shorten future outbreaks.
Herpes Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are carried out before a new drug or treatment is released to the public to test its efficacy and safety. They are led by a team comprised of researchers, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare personnel. Participation in these trials is entirely voluntary, and patients can leave the trial at any point if they wish to do so. Joining a clinical trial allows patients to gain more control over their treatment, and to be treated by experts in the field.
Herpes clinical trials are carried out to test new treatments that could possibly cure the disease, and to create and test vaccines to prevent infection. If you are interested in joining a clinical trial, ask your doctor about any trials open in your area, or contact hospitals and/or universities to find out about clinical trials available for you.
ClinicalTrials.gov: Recruiting Studies | Herpes | Last update posted in the last 300 days Studies found on ClinicalTrials.gov by a search of: Recruiting Studies | Herpes | Last update posted in the last 300 days
Autoimmune Encephalitis With Anti-NMDA Receptor Antibodies Following Herpetic Encephalitis
on April 9, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Autoimmune Encephalitis; Anti NMDA Receptor Encephalitis; Herpetic EncephalitisIntervention: Other: Description and analysisSponsor: Hospices Civils de LyonRecruiting
Occlusion vs Standard Treatment for the Treatment of Herpes Zoster
on February 6, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Condition: Herpes ZosterInterventions: Other: Aluminum sulphate and calcium acetate drying soaks; Device: Topical sterile silicone gel for wounds; Device: Hydrocolloid dressingSponsor: Fundación Nacional para la Enseñanza y la Investigación de la Dermatología A.C.Recruiting
Safety and Efficacy of 4 Investigational HSV 2 Vaccines in Adults With Recurrent Genital Herpes Caused by HSV 2
on January 10, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Condition: Genital HerpesInterventions: Biological: HSV 2 Formulation 1; Biological: HSV 2 Formulation 2; Biological: HSV 2 Formulation 3; Biological: HSV 2 Formulation 4; Biological: HSV 2 Formulation 5; Biological: HSV 2 Formulation 6; Biological: Sodium Chloride 0.9%Sponsors: Sanofi Pasteur, a Sanofi Company; Immune DesignRecruiting
A Study to Test GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) Herpes Zoster (HZ) Subunit Vaccine's Long-term Immune Response in Previously Vaccinated Kidney Transplant Adults and Then to Test if 2 Additional Doses of the Vaccine Are Safe and Able to Generate an Immune Response
on November 25, 2019 at 5:00 pm
Condition: Herpes ZosterIntervention: Biological: HZ/su vaccine (GSK1437173A)Sponsor: GlaxoSmithKlineRecruiting
Monoclonal Antibody Therapy Against Chronic Herpes Simplex Virus 2 Infection
on November 15, 2019 at 5:00 pm
Condition: Herpes GenitalisInterventions: Biological: HDIT101; Drug: Valaciclovir; Biological: HDIT101 placebo; Drug: Valaciclovir placeboSponsor: Heidelberg ImmunoTherapeutics GmbHRecruiting
NPC-06 to Acute Pain in Herpes Zoster
on October 25, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Condition: Acute Pain in Herpes ZosterIntervention: Drug: NPC-06Sponsor: NobelpharmaRecruiting
Treatment of Chronic Postherpetic Pain With Autologous Fat Grafting - A RCT
on September 23, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Postherpetic Neuralgia; Shingles; Varicella Zoster; Herpes Zoster; Chronic PainIntervention: Procedure: Autologous Fat Grafting / Fat TransplantSponsor: Odense University HospitalRecruiting
A Study to Evaluate the Safety and Immunogenicity of GlaxoSmithKline's Herpes Zoster Subunit Vaccine (HZ/su) When Given on a Two-dose Schedule to Adults at Least 50 Years of Age (YOA) Who Had Prior Episode of Shingles
on September 16, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Condition: Herpes ZosterInterventions: Biological: Herpes Zoster subunit (HZ/su) vaccine (GSK1437173A); Drug: PlaceboSponsor: GlaxoSmithKlineRecruiting
Long-term Immunogenicity of a Live Herpes Zoster Vaccine in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) Patients
on September 13, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Condition: Lupus ErythematosusIntervention: Diagnostic Test: ImmunogenicitySponsors: Tuen Mun Hospital; The University of Hong KongRecruiting
Pharmacokinetics of Valacyclovir Oral Solution in Children
on September 9, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Herpes Simplex Virus Infection; Varicella Zoster Virus InfectionIntervention: Drug: ValacyclovirSponsor: Radboud UniversityRecruiting
Randomized, Placebo-controlled, Double-blind Study of 2LHERP® in Orofacial Herpes Infections.
on August 22, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Condition: Herpes SimplexInterventions: Drug: 2LHERP®; Drug: PlaceboSponsor: Labo'LifeRecruiting
Impact of Increased Immunoglobulin E to Anti-herpes Simplex Virus -1 Innate Immune Responses in Atopic Dermatitis Patients With Eczema Herpeticum
on August 19, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Atopic Dermatitis With a History of Eczema Herpeticum; Atopic Dermatitis Without a History of Eczema Herpeticum; Health Controls Without AtopyIntervention: Biological: XolairSponsors: National Jewish Health; Genentech, Inc.Recruiting
Systems Biology of Zoster Vaccine
on August 7, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Zoster; Zoster Varicella; Shingles; Chicken PoxIntervention: Biological: Shingrix®Sponsors: Emory University; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)Recruiting
A Study to Test GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) Candidate Vaccine-GSK1437173A for Prevention of Shingles in Children With Kidney Transplant
on July 5, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Condition: Herpes ZosterIntervention: Biological: PED-HZ/suSponsor: GlaxoSmithKlineRecruiting
Solid Organ Transplant SHINGRIX
on June 21, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Condition: Kidney Transplant; ComplicationsIntervention: Biological: SHINGRIXSponsor: Emory UniversityRecruiting
HSV G207 in Children With Recurrent or Refractory Cerebellar Brain Tumors
on April 11, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Neoplasms, Brain; Glioblastoma Multiforme; Glioblastoma of Cerebellum; Neoplasms; Astrocytoma; Astrocytoma, Cerebellar; Neuroectodermal Tumors; Neuroectodermal Tumors, Primitive; Cerebellar PNET, Childhood; Cerebellar Neoplasms; Cerebellar Neoplasms, Primary; Cerebellar Neoplasm, Malignant; Cerebellar Neoplasm Malignant Primary; Neoplasm Metastases; Neoplasm Malignant; Neoplasms, Neuroepithelial; Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal; Neoplasms by Histologic Type; Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial; Neoplasms, Nerve Tissue; Central Nervous System Neoplasms, Primary; Central Nervous System Neoplasms, Malignant; Nervous System Neoplasms; Neoplasms by Site; Brain Diseases; Central Nervous System Diseases; Nervous System Diseases; Medulloblastoma Recurrent; HSV; Virus; Pediatric Brain Tumor; Nervous System Cancer; Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor (PNET) of CerebellumIntervention: Biological: G207Sponsor: University of Alabama at BirminghamRecruiting
Subunit Vaccine Against Herpes Zoster in RA Patients Treated With JAK-inhibitors (VACCIMIL-ZOSTER)
on March 22, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Rheumatoid Arthritis; Healthy ControlsIntervention: Biological: ShingrixSponsor: Region SkaneRecruiting
Immunogenicity of Herpes Zoster Subunit Vaccine in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients Treated With Vedolizumab
on January 10, 2019 at 5:00 pm
Conditions: Inflammatory Bowel Diseases; Crohn Disease; Ulcerative Colitis; Herpes ZosterIntervention: Biological: ShingrixSponsors: University of Wisconsin, Madison; Boston Medical CenterRecruiting
Response to the SHINGRIX Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) Vaccine in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) and CLL Treated With Bruton's Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (BTK-I)
on October 11, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Conditions: Safety and Tolerability; Compare SHINGRIX Vaccine Response RatesIntervention: Biological: Zoster VaccineRecombinant, AdjuvantedSponsor: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)Recruiting
Topical Corticosteroid Use in Addition to Oral Antivirals for Prevention of Recurrence of Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Keratitis
on August 13, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Condition: Herpes Simplex Virus KeratitisInterventions: Drug: oral acyclovir 400 mg BID OR valacyclovir 500 mg qdaily; Drug: oral acyclovir 400 mg BID OR valacyclovir 500 mg qdaily + topical corticosteroid eye dropsSponsor: NYU Langone HealthRecruiting
If you have been infected with the herpes simplex virus, make sure to adopt habits that minimize the risk of infecting other people, such as using condoms to prevent infection during intercourse, avoiding having multiple sex partners, avoiding intercourse during an active outbreak. Be honest with your partners about having the virus, and consider contacting previous partners if you aren’t sure where you became infected.
Make sure to discuss all your therapeutic options with your doctor, since the proper treatment can make outbreaks shorter and less painful. Seek professional help if you are having difficulty coping with the diagnosis. It is normal to feel shock, anger and embarrassment after diagnosis; however, it is important to know that although there is a stigma associated with herpes, it is a manageable condition that hardly ever leads to serious complications and you can lead a normal life after being infected.
- Be kind to your partner if they have HSV and don’t make them feel ashamed or stigmatize the disease. Practice safe sex, and ask your doctor about prophylactic treatment to minimize the risk of infection.
- Herpes can’t be spread through contact with personal objects, so there is no danger in sharing objects like towels, sheets, toilets, or going swimming together.
- Avoid intimate contact with your loved one when they have active sores.
- Consider couples counseling to deal with the diagnosis.
- Knott, L. (Oct 16th, 2017) Genital Herpes. Recovered from https://patient.info/health/sexually-transmitted-infections-leaflet/genital-herpes
- Genital herpes. 2015. Recovered from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/genital-herpes
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