Q. I am 23 years old and I just learned I have herpes. I feel like my life is over. I fear no one will ever want to date me again.
I’m not promiscuous at all. It only took one person for me to be infected. I am sinking into depression just thinking about it.
I understand that people with herpes may live perfectly normal, happy lives and even have kids, but the fear exists nonetheless. Is there any treatment that really works for this condition?
A. Genital herpes is extremely common, affecting one person in five in the U.S. It is also quite treatable. One woman wrote:
“I had horrible outbreaks at first. They were a constant reminder of what I considered to be a huge mistake in judgment.
“It wasn’t until my doctor prescribed Valtrex that things turned around for me. It shortened the duration, and if I took it soon enough, the severity. When I met my husband, I started taking it daily for suppression.”I’ve been married for 14 years now to a wonderful man who still doesn’t have it, probably because I take Valtrex every day and abstain from sex if I have an outbreak. I stay healthy and try to limit stress. I get outbreaks maybe twice a year and they are only an annoyance.”
There are three medications used to fight the herpes virus: Famvir (famciclovir), Valtrex (valacyclovir) and Zovirax (acyclovir). For occasional outbreaks, one of these prescription drugs should be taken at the earliest sign. People who have frequent outbreaks may be able to prevent them by taking one of these antiviral drugs daily.
Although the virus can be transmitted even when there are no visible sores, daily use of an antiviral may reduce the risk. Conscientious use of condoms can also be helpful.