This is the first study to demonstrate that valacyclovir, an antiviral to treat genital herpes, does not require the presence of herpes simplex virus (HSV-2) to suppress HIV. Researchers treated 18 HIV-infected patients, all without an HSV-2 infection, with valacyclovir or placebo for 12 weeks. After 2 weeks, the placebo group received valacyclovir while the valacylovir group switched to placebo. When patients took valacyclovir, their blood HIV levels had significantly declined. A genetic analysis showed that the HIV in study participants did not show resistance to valacyclovir. However, longer-term treatment may lead to the virus developing resistance to valacyclovir.
Randomized trials and cost-effectiveness analyses are needed to study the potential of valacyclovir for HIV-1 infection, in combination with other antivirals, researchers concluded.
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