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Hormonal birth control, bacterial infections in women linked to increased shedding of type-2 herpes

ant contribution to the burgeoning genital herpes epidemic," he said. Dr. Cherpes added that further research is also required to determine if the type of contraceptive (such as oral birth control pills versus injectable Depo-Provera) affects shedding frequency.

The novel finding that some vaginal bacterial infections are also linked to a higher frequency of HSV-2 shedding could be important in controlling the spread of HSV-2. "BV is an infection that is readily treatable, and treatment for it is effective," Dr. Cherpes said. "I believe that treatment of BV will be shown to be an effective therapy to reduce the risk of HSV-2 shedding, but, again, further work is required."

Vaginal GBS becomes problematic when bacterial colonization is heavy; in pregnant women, GBS can result in infants with low birthweight or even severe infections. "In light of that, it's not that much of a leap to think that the alterations caused by the presence of GBS can also result in increased [HSV-2] shedding frequency," Dr. Cherpes said. Penicillin and related drugs, though, are usually effective treatments for GBS.

Since there is no true cure for genital herpes, controlling its transmission is the only option. Women who have HSV-2 should consider alternate forms of contraception, such as condoms. And because there is no vaccine available for genital herpes, treating the bacterial infections that could predispose women to higher HSV-2 shedding frequency is probably one of the best ways to keep the virus in check, according to Dr. Cherpes. "I think it's going to be an important thing--it's not going to be a panacea, but it will help slow the spread [of HSV-2], and right now we want to do anything to slow the spread," he said.


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Contact: Steve Baragona
sbaragona@idsociety.org
703-299-0412
Infectious Diseases Society of America
6-Apr-2005


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