Antivirals, including acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir, treat the severity and frequency of herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) infections, according to the World Health Organization. However, these infections are lifelong and cannot be cured.
HSV-2 is a highly infectious sexually transmitted infection that causes genital herpes, explains the World Health Organization. HSV-2 is mainly spread through sex by skin-to-skin contact, though it can also be transmitted to newborns from an infected mother. It infects an estimated 400 million people globally and increases risk of contracting HIV. Most people have no symptoms of infection, but when they do occur, they normally include one or more genital or anal blisters as well as fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes.
Antivirals are the most effective medications available for treating HSV-2, states the WHO. A doctor may also prescribe antivirals to pregnant women with HSV-2 to minimize the likelihood of a herpes outbreak during delivery, which in turn reduces the risk of transmission of HSV-2 from the mother to her child. Such transmissions are rare, but may be fatal. A caesarean-section can be performed to reduce transmission if the mother has lesions during labor.
WHO and its partners sponsor research to improve prevention and control of neonatal and genital HSV-2 infections. New drugs in the pipeline include HSV vaccines and topical microbicides, which may help control physical and psychological discomfort due to outbreaks, infant mortality and morbidity, and the incidence of HIV, states the WHO.