Q. I desperately need your help. I was diagnosed with genital herpes three years ago, and this diagnosis has left me full of emotions. I am crying as I write this letter.
For fear of scorn and rejection, I cannot disclose this to anyone. I won’t ask for a prescription because if I got it filled, anyone who works in the store would know, even the kids they hire after school.
Are there any over-the-counter vitamins I can take to help with the discomfort and pain? I feel tremendous pressure to maintain this secret. The only reason I haven’t killed myself is because I have kids. I am afraid I could pass this on to them, so I constantly wash my hands and disinfect the house and car.
A. You are not alone. It is estimated that one in five Americans (45 million) is infected with genital herpes. Counseling can sometimes help overcome the emotional strain of this infection.
There are effective antiviral medications to prevent outbreaks or shorten the duration of an attack (Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases, Feb. 2008). Your doctor could prescribe acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir) or valacyclovir (Valtrex).
You should not worry about the pharmacy where you purchase the medication. Your privacy is protected. If you prefer, though, you could use an online or mail order pharmacy service. That way you wouldn’t even have to go to a pharmacy.
The virus that causes genital herpes is spread primarily by sexual contact, so you won’t infect your children. Of course, during an outbreak, frequent hand washing is advisable.