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February 25th, 2010
02:33 PM ET

When will we see a herpes cure?

As a feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.

From Lloyd Bartley, Bowling Green, Kentucky

“How close are scientists to developing a cure for herpes, figuratively speaking will we be seeing a break through in 10, 20, or even 30 years?”

Answer:

Well, Lloyd, there is good news and bad news on the herpes front. The good news: Researchers have made serious strides and now better understand the mechanism behind herpes outbreaks. The bad news: There is very little funding for that research.

After receiving your question we reached out to a leading herpes expert, Bryan Cullen, the director at the Center for Virology at Duke University. Cullen is hopeful that a cure for herpes could come within 10 years, once funding hurdles are crossed.

Nearly one in five people over age 12 in the U.S. is affected by herpes. It is caused by a virus - either the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Both strains can cause genital herpes, but HSV-1 usually infects the mouth and produces cold sores.

Despite funding challenges, Cullen and his team are inching closer to a cure. They conducted a study recently that identified the pathway herpes takes as it infects. They now know how herpes embeds itself into the cells and how it eludes treatment. Now that they have honed in on the physiology of the disease - and its triggers - researchers believe they are steps closer to creating drugs that could cure herpes.

While we wait for a cure, there are drugs out there that can at least suppress herpes. Three antiviral drugs: acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are commonly recommended to quell outbreaks. A physician might recommend taking these drugs when an outbreak occurs to quiet symptoms; or taking them continuously to reduce the likelihood of an outbreak.

And of course the best way to avoid spreading herpes is to abstain from sex, but if you are sexually active, engage in safe-sex practices such as using condoms.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


Filed under: Expert Q&A • Sex • Virus

soundoff (1,296 Responses)
  1. nomore pee shyness

    How's it going guys Here is a quick 5 cents worth from me. For years I suffered because of toilet phobia I didn't even know it have a name. & I beleived I was the only guy on earth that that was suffering with this!!! Gee I got to the poiunt of madness and dispair even going to see the family doctor because of it. And I'll give you three guesses. That doctor never heard of AP and just told me to get out more and use urinals. I was at a low eb until I came accross a changing self help book I thought I would to give it a last try I'm telling you now it took a lot of work However after a few months I started to see results. Now I was able to start using public stalls and urinals again. As I'm typing my life is 10 thousand percent better! I'm able to travel yet again, I'm able to go out with colleagues without having to become uptight about toilet problems an all. Lastly that is how I beat shy bladder. I wish that my triumph will inspire others to follow. Cheers

    http://amzn.to/1dNHNsD

    January 29, 2014 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. seed

    so this was written 4 years ago, so does that mean we are 6 years away from getting the cure?

    February 3, 2014 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Lady

    I heard the prescription fungicide cures herpes
    Does anyone know?

    February 20, 2014 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • candirose2014

      I don’t normally answer questions, but I have an experience I’d like to share that will hopefully help others in a similar position as myself Recently i discover my herpes then after that i was searching for natural remedy & found this system i was surprised with my results applying these treatment methods that have benn discussed here http://tiny.cc/ubxfix I’ve actually recommended this for anyone surf from herpes even if the children so go here http://tiny.cc/ubxfix – See more at: http://blogs.nejm.org/now/index.php/shedding-convention-new-treatment-for-genital-herpes/2014/01/15/#sthash.jA4KvvPd.dpuf

      July 3, 2014 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
  4. Lacey Autumn

    Hey, I too struggled with herpes and tried so many things. Different things
    work for different people and I was lucky enough to find something that works
    for me. I haven't had any recent outbreaks and it's been a life changer.

    I'm a little embarrassed to talk about my personal life here but if anyone actually
    cares to hear what I've been doing then I'd be happy to help in any way. Just
    send me an email at laceyautumn1980@gmail.com and I'll tell you about how
    things are going for me with the stuff I've tried.

    I wish someone would have helped me out when I was struggling to find a solution so if I can help you then it would make my day.

    February 26, 2014 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Ryan

    Has anyone seen the herpes trick video... http://remedieshealth.com/herpes ? What do you think about it?

    March 18, 2014 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Ryan

    Very interesting herpes post! Has anyone seen the herpes protocol video... http://remedieshealth.com/herpes ? What do you think about it?

    March 18, 2014 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Lacey Autumn

    Hey, I too struggled with herpes and tried so many things. Different things work for different people and I was lucky enough to find something that works for me. I haven't had any recent outbreaks and it's been a life changer.

    I'm a little embarrassed to talk about my personal life here but if anyone actually cares to hear what I've been doing then I'd be happy to help in any way. Just send me an email at laceyautumn1980@gmail.com and I'll tell you about how things are going for me with the stuff I've tried.

    I wish someone would have helped me out when I was struggling to find a solution so if I can help you then it would make my day.

    March 28, 2014 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Emily

    I always thought that Herpes or any type of STD to stop from spreading the effected people should date only people with STD's, Then the spread rate will drastically come down. I have found some sites like http://www.Sensitivedating.org, http://www.Meetup.com and if you search online there are many more sites.

    May 26, 2014 at 08:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. candirose2014

    I don’t normally answer questions, but I have an experience I’d like to share that will hopefully help others in a similar position as myself Recently i discover my herpes then after that i was searching for natural remedy & found this system i was surprised with my results applying these treatment methods that have benn discussed here http://tiny.cc/ubxfix I’ve actually recommended this for anyone surf from herpes even if the children so go here http://tiny.cc/ubxfix – See more at: http://blogs.nejm.org/now/index.php/shedding-convention-new-treatment-for-genital-herpes/2014/01/15/#sthash.jA4KvvPd.dpuf

    July 3, 2014 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.