In general, talking about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is sort of a mood-killer. However, the word"herpes" specifically invokes a unique sort of anxiety and paranoia. Although genital herpes is quite common (it's the 5th most common STI in Singapore). However, is there a remedy for herpes?
But is there no vaccine or cure for a few of their most dreaded (and common) STIs? And have you gotten any closer to discovering one?
Here is what we discovered later chatting with experts.
People with oral herpes typically get the virus as children by kissing relatives or friends.
By comparison, genital herpes is brought on by the herpes simplex virus type two (HSV-2), that is typically transmitted via anal, vaginal, or oral intercourse. HSV-2 has symptoms like an outbreak of blisters on the genitals or anus, but a lot of individuals may also be curable. Genital herpes can also be brought on by HSV-1 through oral sex.
Why is there no remedy for herpes?
These days, there's absolutely no cure for either HSV-1 or HSV-2, although individuals with both types of herpes can take antifungal medications such as Valtrex to control their symptoms and decrease their risk of transmitting the virus to their partners.
For the past 80 decades, yet, scientists are researching possible herpes outbreaks. (Note: Although"treatment" and"vaccine" are sometimes used interchangeably, they're not the same. In the event of herpes, a cure would totally eliminate the herpes virus from the human body, even though a vaccine would treat or prevent it.)
So far, scientists have attempted to develop two kinds of herpes meds: a preventive one, which protects you from getting infected in the first place; and a therapeutic one, which would help manage symptoms in those who have the disease and lessen the probability of outbreaks greater compared to present antifungal drugs available on the industry. Yet they have had little chance.
The herpes virus can be extremely complex
"We do not have a remedy for a whole lot of items," she says, mentioning HIV and hepatitis as other instances.
Most viruses attack cells and try to multiply after they enter our bodies. Frequently, our immune systems can clear viruses out of our bodies, meaning we are not infected.
But herpes is far much more complex than that, says Wald. Herpes"has figured out how to live from the host regardless of the immune reaction," she clarifies.
To make things even more complicated, the virus can lie dormant within our central nervous systems for a protracted time period (this explains why people with herpes may go several months without any flare-ups after an initial outbreak, or never have any symptoms at all).
The fact that our immune systems don't find out how to protect us from herpes makes it extremely tough for scientists to make a preventive vaccine. "It's very difficult to generate a vaccine unless you know what kind of immune response you're trying to make to protect somebody," Wald says. Contrary to other viruses such as the human papillomavirus (HPV), for example, researchers cannot inject part of the herpes virus into our bodies because of vaccine, which makes them develop an antibody that fights back and prevents infection.
Luckily, current antiviral medications can already reduce the recurrence of outbreaks by roughly 70 per cent, according to American Family Physician.
Just how near are we to a prosperous herpes vaccine?
Back in 2016, it appeared as if we had been on the cusp of a herpes vaccine when the bioscience firm Genocea declared that it had finished phase 2 clinical trials to get a therapeutic vaccine named GEN-003. Research demonstrated that herpes patients were 65 percent less likely to have outbreaks after receiving the vaccine and were 60 percent less likely to transmit the virus to their partners.
But absence of funds killed the project, a company spokesperson clarified to MensHealth.com. In September 2017, the business stopped growth of GEN-003 since they did not have enough cash to pay for phase 3 clinical trials, which might have been required to be accepted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company is currently focusing primarily on cancer study.
Will we get a herpes vaccine?
Not for quite a while, at least: at the present time, there are no promising clinical trials underway for a herpes vaccine.
Hansfield believes it is unlikely that researchers might soon develop a herpes vaccine which would completely eliminate the virus out of someone's system.
As for a preventative vaccine,"I would be amazed if there was a HSV vaccine available on the marketplace that prevents herpes in under a decade," he says.
The Way to protect yourself from herpes
Besides not having sexual intercourse, there is no 100% effective means to avoid herpes. It's possible to reduce the possibility of contracting the infection by using a condom, however even a condom isn't foolproof, as the virus could be transmitted even when your spouse has no visible sores.
Having said that, if you or your partner has herpes, then taking antifungal drugs can significantly reduce the chances of transmission.
If you display any of these signs of genital herpes, such as cracked, red sores around the genitals or anus, then ask your doctor for a blood test to detect HSV antibodies. Even in case you test negative, routine STI screening is very important to anyone who is sexually active, also free and low-cost testing resources are found on the CDC's website.