CONDOMS AND HERPES

One of five adults in North America is infected with genital type two herpes (1). A recent study in the journal of the America Medical Association shows that women can protect themselves from getting herpes by having their partners use condoms.

Herpes classically causes painful grouped blisters that recur in the same place, or recurrent swelling without blisters, or recurrent burning on urination. . A person with genital herpes can be contagious, even when he has no blisters whatever. The authors showed that wearing condoms regularly protected women from getting herpes when they were in exclusive relationships with men who had recurring genital herpes. This is good news because previous studies suggested that the herpes virus could get around condoms in secretions. Other studies show that taking one pill a day of Valtrex or Famvir, two drugs that kill herpes, can markedly reduce shedding of the virus and contagiousness. Having recurrent herpes does not increase your risk for cancer.

JAMA June 27, 1991

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