Herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) infection is common and frequently asymptomatic. Concerns exist about the high prevalence of HSV-2, particularly in areas of high HIV prevalence, because of observations that HSV-2 is associated with an increased risk of HIV acquisition, transmission, and disease progression. Several randomized trials have tested or are testing whether HSV-2 treatment can limit the spread of HIV, with mixed results. Although treatment with acyclovir, 400 mg twice daily, does not reduce HIV incidence, suppressive acyclovir and valacyclovir reduce HIV levels in plasma and in the genital tract. Ongoing trials are evaluating whether HSV suppression will reduce HIV transmission and disease progression. Until a protective HSV-2 or HIV vaccine is available, effective interventions that reduce the effect of HSV-2 on HIV transmission are critically needed.
Current Infectious Disease Reports (2009) 11 (2), pp. 135-142.