Valacyclovir may reduce levels of HIV in patients without genital herpes, a National Institutes of Health study has found. Findings are published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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.

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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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