Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Herpes Virus Sheds Without Symptoms

Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. It is caused by the herpes simplex 2 virus, and affects approximately 16 percent of American adults or about 40 million people. Until recently, scientists did not know whether a person without any apparent genital sores could spread the virus to a partner. A new study of nearly 500 individuals whose blood tests showed they carried the virus has found that virus is shed even when there are no active lesions. People who would not have known they were infected, but for the positive blood test, were shedding virus on at least one day out of ten. People with symptomatic herpes shed virus 20 percent of the time.
What does this mean for people with herpes? To prevent the spread of the virus the researchers recommend condom use, daily anti-viral drug treatment with a medication like Valtrex, and telling all partners about carrier status. Each of these tactics can cut transmission in half, though none of these alone can completely protect a partner.
[JAMA, April 13, 2011]

Rate this article
0- 0 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.