Herpes Pill Might Control HIV

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A pill developed to fight herpes might help control the AIDS virus, researchers reported Friday.

The drug’s called valacyclovir and it’s prescribed to people with genital herpes and, less often, people with cold sores caused by a different strain of herpes.

Doctors had known that treating herpes in HIV patients infected with both viruses seemed to help control the HIV infection.

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This study shows the drug, sold under the brand name Valtrex, directly affects HIV — because they have tested it on people who didn’t even have herpes.

“These findings are very encouraging,” said Leonid Margolis of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), part of the National Institutes of Health, who led the study.

The trial was only in 12 people so researchers will have to test many more to be sure the drug is really helping HIV.

When patients took valacyclovir, the amount of HIV found in their blood declined significantly, the researchers reported in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Other studies have shown that if you give people drugs to fight HIV, they not only stay well — they are less likely to infect someone else.

“If valacyclovir’s effectiveness against HIV can be confirmed in a larger cohort, it could be added to the mix of drugs used to suppress the virus, and might prove especially helpful in cases in which HIV has developed resistance to other drugs,” Margolis said in a statement.


-- Maggie Fox