An experimental gel might prevent herpes. The vaginal gel contains a drug which is used to treat the virus AIDS. The new treatment might be able to prevent around half of the cases of genital herpes, a study conducted in South Africa claims.
The annual rate of infection with genital herpes was 10.2 percent among women who uses tenofovir gel, versus 21 percent among women who used a placebo. Genital herpes is also known as herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).
If the new experimental gel were to be approved and made and if women are concerned about getting the herpes virus, this could become the best possible protection available.
Chief author of the study, Dr. Salim Abdool Karim from the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research from South Africa said that the problem right now is that the gel is not available for everyone. Taking tablets with tenofovir is not as effective as using the gel. He added that even though there is some protection with the tablets, it’s a lot less than with the gel.
Condoms provide a great protection against the genital herpes virus, however, even this kind of protection has its limits as the virus might be shed and obtained through some other parts of the skin around the groin not protected by the condom.
Tenofivir taken orally is used to treat and prevent the HIV virus. The test of its capacity to also protect against herpes was discovered in an existing research, which demonstrated that tenofovir in the form of a gel reduced the risks of contracting HIV by a whopping 39 percent.
The study did not reveal any side effects of the gel, even though a report released earlier online claimed that the drug may increase the chance of getting mild diarrhea. Abdool Karim said that because it’s in the form of a gel, this leads to high concentrations of the active ingredient in the genital tract and low levels within the blood. This is why there are no serious side effects, as very little is absorbed into the body.
There were also worries that the experimental gel might reveal side effects in the bones and kidneys, Abdool Karim said. Nevertheless, he added that they didn’t experience any of those issues either in the gel form. A very important question is whether the women will use the new drug or not when it will see its way onto the market.
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Image Source: assets.nydailynews.com