What Aborts Asymptomatic Viral Shedding?

Dear Dr. Tom:

Help! I desperately need to know if Valtrex and Famvir are equally effective in aborting asymptomatic viral shedding. First I am thankful that these medications are available to us today. But my main concern is that I do not want to be shedding virus around my home – I seem to have a fear of infecting my family through this means. My insurance will pay for one but not the other. But the one that my insurance will pay for says little about aborting asymptomatic viral shedding. It seems that both say about the same thing as far as duration of lesions and pain are concerned. But one boldly states that it aborts asymptomatic viral shedding while the other says little about that particular topic which is my main concern. I hope that you can shed some light on this for me. Thanks for being out there!
Seeker of Information

Dr. Tom’s Response:

Dear Seeker of Information:

I was not aware of an antiviral drug that claimed to abort asymptomatic shedding of HSV, so I consulted the 1998 PDR (Physician’s Desk Reference) to update myself once again about Valtrex, Famvir, and Zovirax. The specific data for each of these differ somewhat, but each drug has time values published for ability to promote lesion healing, pain relief and reduction of shedding, meaning curtailment of shedding time from lesions following an episode. Under PRECAUTIONS for each of the three drugs a statement is included to the effect that: 1) No data exist to evaluate if the drug will prevent transmission of infection to others, 2) The drug is not a cure for genital herpes and 3) Genital herpes can be transmitted in the absence of symptoms through asymptomatic viral shedding. Thus, physicians are advised under the most current descriptions of these compounds, that during their use, the risk of transmission still exists because of possible asymptomatic viral shedding. I have not talked to a local pharmacist to solicit possibly a copy of the package insert included with each drug. Examination also of several family drug guides failed to provide information as detailed as that published in the PDR. Curiosity has the better of me. Would you be so kind as to communicate again where you obtained that information?


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