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CD8aa+ T-cells | New Research may lead to a vaccine for HSV-2

Newly identified T-cells, called CD8aa+ T-cells, are the first to contain the herpes virus before it erupts above the skin. Through new techniques, biopsies discovered these CD8aa+ T-cells were found where the dermis (outer layer of skin) and the epidermis (layer just below the surface) connect. This new discovery suggests that the recurrence of HSV-2 is in the skin and not in the ganglia. We hope to present the article in it’s entirety soon.

Jia Zhu, Tao Peng, Christine Johnston, Khamsone Phasouk, Angela S. Kask, Alexis Klock, Lei Jin, Kurt Diem, David M. Koelle, Anna Wald, Harlan Robins, and Lawerence Corey
Nature 497, 494-497 doi:10.1038/nature12110 (23 May 2013)


Akt | A group of Scientists discovering Akt find a different approach for treating Herpes.

Calcium release within the cells has been shown to be fundamental for the herpes virus. These scientists found this calcium release occurs because the hsv activates a critical cell signaling molecule called “Akt”.

In their study, scientist took human cell cultures and mixed them, for fifteen minutes, with four different drugs which obstruct Akt. The cells were then exposed to HSV2 for one hour. All four of the drugs worked notably well to inhibit herpes infection, whereas the cells which were not pretreated with the drugs were easily infected. We hope to post the entire article soon.


Natalia Cheshenko et al. HSV activates Akt to trigger calcium release and promote viral entry: novel candidate target for treatment and suppression. The FASEB Journal, published online before print March 18, 2013; doi: 10.1096/fj.12-220285


HSV1 has an internal pressure eight times higher than a car tire!

This study shows the herpes internal pressure is so high that it actually blasts its DNA to infect human cells. The DNA is so tightly packed, that the force enables the virus to permeate its DNA into the host cell.


UL6, a protein which causes DNA to exit HSV1, was degraded and used with applied force to reach the conclusion that the pressure rose tens of atmospheres. This is important to understand the physical-chemical workings of the viral infection.


Bauer DW et al. Herpes Virus Genome, The Pressure Is On. J. Am. Chem. Soc., published online July 5, 2013; doi: 10.1021/ja404008r


Circumcision | Babies Contract Herpes

April, 2013 | The New York Board of Health reported more cases where newborn boys contracted herpes after the Jewish ulta Orthodox practice, “metzitzah b’peh”. During the ritual, the mohel, removes the foreskin of the penis, then places his mouth briefly over the wound, sucking a small amount of blood out, to “cleanse” the wound. Two-thirds of boys born in New York City’s Hasidic communities are circumcised in the oral suction manner.


Since 2000, 13 infants, two of whom died, have reportedly contracted herpes through this practice. The health department says the procedure is dangerous because the contact with the mouth could transmit diseases such as herpes. Most adults have contracted hsv-1, herpes simplex 1, and many are asymptomtic so they don’t even know they have it.


Research | Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Shedding

In Washington at a JAMA briefing, Anna Wald, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, presented the findings of the study about shedding the herpes 2 virus. “Herpes simplex virus type 2 is one of the most frequent sexually transmitted infections worldwide, with global estimates of 536 million infected persons and an annual incidence of 23.6 million cases among persons aged 15 to 49 years. In the United States, 16 percent of adults are HSV-2 seropositive, but only 10 percent to 25 percent of persons with HSV-2 infection have recognized genital herpes. Moreover, most HSV-2 infections are acquired from persons without a clinical history of genital herpes,” reports Dr. Wald.

“Subclinical genital shedding rates were higher in persons with symptomatic infection compared with asymptomatic infection (2,708 of 20,735 [13.1 percent] vs. 434 of 4,929 [8.8 percent]). However, the median [midpoint] amount of HSV detected during subclinical genital shedding episodes was similar in persons with symptomatic and asymptomatic infection,” Wald announced.

E. Tronstein, C. Johnston, M.-L. Huang, S. Selke, A. Magaret, T. Warren, L. Corey, A. Wald.
Genital Shedding of Herpes Simplex Virus Among Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Persons With HSV-2 Infection.
JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011; 305 (14): 1441 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2011.420

Swedish Study Reports Recurring Genital Problems Could Be Herpes

A study of patients attending sexual health clinics in Gothenburg, Sweden, found that only four out of ten patients who had genital herpes actually knew that they had contracted the disease. Also reports found a third of those who did not realise that they had been infected stated typical symptoms at a follow-up visit. “The study reinforces our perception that genital herpes is common and that most people carrying it are unaware that they have it,” says Matilda Berntsson.

Study shows Anti-viral Medications reduce Ocular Herpes Recurrences

Researchers, Keith Baratz, MD, and colleagues at the Mayo Clinics in Rochester, MN, and Jacksonville, FL, found that taking oral anti-viral medications lower the risk of recurring eye disease caused by herpes simplex virus.

In a study covering a period of 32 years, those not taking prophylactic anti-viral drugs had a markedly increased risk of epithelial keratitis, stromal keratitis, blepharitis, or conjunctivitis. The findings “suggest that oral antiviral prophylaxis should be considered for patients with frequent recurrences of corneal disease.”

Those not treated had an increased risk of recurrence. Specifically, they were:

  • 9.4 times more likely to have a recurrence of epithelial keratitis
  • 8.4 times more likely to have a recurrence of stromal keratitis
  • 34.5 times more likely to have a recurrence of blepharitis or conjunctivitis

Reference: Archives of Ophthalmology
Young RC, et al “Incidence, recurrence, and outcomes of herpes simplex virus eye disease in Olmsted County, Minnesota, 1976-2007:
The effect of oral antiviral prophylaxis” Arch Ophthalmol 2010; 128(9): 1178-1183.

Herpes and Alzheimer’s disease

The University of New Mexico (UNM), Brown University, and House Ear Institute (HEI) have developed a new method to observe HSV-1 infections growing in cells. In lab studies it has been determined that growth and recurrences of HSV-1 are linked to the cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients. The question is no longer “if” but “how much” HSV-1, Herpes Simplex Virus, contributes to this decline. It is suggested that antiviral drugs used to treat herpes may help lower or prevent this cognitive deterioration. PLoS ONE magazine from the Public Library of Science explains the study.

A New Report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. estimates that the Global Herpes SimplexVirus Treatment Market will Reach $4.8 Billion by 2017!

With about 80% of the US population infected with HSV1, about 25-35% of the adults with recurrent outbreaks of cold sores, and HSV-2, genital herpes, being one of the most common STD’s in the US, it is no surprise that there are about 4 billion people infected with HSV, globally.

Global Industry Analysts Inc.’s report, “Herpes Simplex Virus Treatment: A Global Strategic Business Report”, provides an extensive review of HSV treatment, current market trends, key growth drivers, recent product approvals, recent industry activity, the available treatment, overview of major drugs, insight into current leading and pipeline drugs, and profiles of major/niche global as well as regional market participants. The report provides annual sales estimates and projections for HSV treatment for the years 2009 through 2017.

University of Florida Foundation was awarded $50K
Fund tests of a new herpes treatment at the University of Florida

The Goal: Test the ribozyme for its ability to block recurrent herpes outbreaks
“The goal of the proposed project will be to test a potential new treatment for Herpes. This treatment (a ribozyme) has been shown to block Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1) infections. Here we propose to test the ribozyme for its ability to block recurrent disease. If successful, this study would open the door to a potential therapy for HSV-1 recurrent diseases.”

Researchers at Northwestern University no longer believe the only way HIV could enter the vaginal tract is if a woman has an open lesion on her skin, for example caused by the herpes virus.

Chicago (December 16, 2008) – Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered a critical new way a man can transmit the HIV virus to a woman.

Scientists thought the large HIV virus couldn’t penetrate the tissue of the normal lining of the female vaginal tract. They long believed the healthy lining was an effective barrier to invasion of the HIV virus during sexual intercourse.

New research from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine has shown for the first time that the HIV virus does indeed penetrate a woman’s normal, healthy genital tissue to a depth were it can gain access to its immune cell targets.

“This is an unexpected and important result,” said Thomas Hope, principal investigator and professor of cell and molecular biology at the Feinberg School. “We have a new understanding of how HIV can invade the female vaginal tract.””Until now, science has really had no idea about the details of how sexual transmission of HIV actually works,” Hope added. “The mechanism was all very murky.” “We urgently need new prevention strategies or therapeutics to block the entry of HIV through a woman’s genital skin,” Hope said. While condoms are 100% effective in blocking the virus, “people don’t always use them for cultural and other reasons,” he noted.

Hope said researchers had also believed the only way HIV could enter the vaginal tract was if a woman had an open lesion on her skin, for example caused by the herpes virus. When breaks are present in the skin it should be easier for HIV to enter the skin and bind to and infect immune cells. But in studies where women were given anti-herpes drugs to decrease their lesions, there was no decrease in transmission. In light of the new results, it is possible that HIV can enter the vaginal tissue and initiate infection without any physical breaks.

“A big mistake in this field is the idea that transmission only takes place one way,” Hope said. “Our perspective is the viruses can infect people in more than one way. We say one of those ways that needs to be in the equation is that the virus can be transmitted directly through the skin.”

The next step will be to prove that the virus actually infects the immune cells in the vaginal tract. “A key experiment in the future is to identify the first cells to get infected in the epithelium, which is not necessarily where people would have looked for them before,” Hope said.

Hope’s research is funded by the NIH and the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology

Nationally Representative CDC Study Finds 1 in 4 Teenage Girls Have an STD

Chicago (March 11, 2008) A CDC study released today estimates that one in four, 26% of young women between the ages of 14 and 19 in the United States are infected with at least one of the most common STDs. These include genital warts or human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, herpes simplex virus, (HSV) and trichomoniasis. 2% were infected with herpes. Data came from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; 838 girls were in the study.

The study also found that African-American teenage girls were most severely affected. Nearly half of the young African-American women, 48% were infected with an STD, whereas 20% of young white and Mexican-American women were infected. High STD infection rates among young women, particularly young African-American women, are clear signs that we must continue developing ways to reach those most at risk, said John M. Douglas, Jr., M.D., director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. STD screening and early treatment can prevent some of the most devastating effects of untreated STDs.

In the study, only about half of the teenage girls admitted to having sex. Some teens defined sex as intercourse only, not including other types of intimate behavior such as oral sex, which can also spread diseases. An alarming 40% of those who admitted to having sex, had an STD!

U.S. health officials called for better screening, vaccination and prevention, since some STDs can cause infertility and cancer.

Vaccine Trial for Women to Help Protect Against Genital Herpes

GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals announced the launch of their phase III trial, called the “HERPEVAC Trial for Women”, due to begin in November 2002. They will be joined by the US National Institute of Health (NIH), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The NIH is recruiting 7,550 US female residents, ages 18 to 30, who are seronegative for both HSV-1 and HSV-2, for this phase of the trial. It seems that the vaccine is effective in women but not in men.

Results of the two previous phase III studies are published in the November 21 2002 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Professor Lawrence Stanberry, one of the chief investigators of the earlier phase III studies and Director of the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, revealed: “The candidate herpes vaccine has demonstrated protection against genital herpes disease and a clear trend towards protection against infection has been observed in the subjects studied.” Approximately 73% of women, who received the vaccine and were seronegative for HSV-1 and HSV-2 at the beginning of the trials, were protected against genital herpes.


Stanberry L, et al. Glycoprotein-D-Adjuvant Vaccine to Prevent Genital Herpes. New England Journal of Medicine 2002; 347:1652-61

American Social Health Asssociaton (ASHA), “Genital herpes vaccine trial for women announced”

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