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Valtrex Prevents the Need for C-Section among Women Infected With Genital Herpes

Researchers from the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center have found a new anti viral drug which prevents the necessity of a caesarean section //in pregnant woman who have a history of genital herpes.

The UT Southwestern study is the first large-scale confirmation that the drug valacyclovir hydrochloride (Valtrex) is effective in the last month of pregnancy, the researchers said.

The study appears in this month's issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. ‘I think this will help immensely in giving doctors stronger evidence in using this treatment,’ said Dr. Jeanne Sheffield, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study. ‘Besides reducing the number of herpes outbreaks at birth, we also dropped the numbers of women without symptoms who were shedding the virus into the birth canal.’

Herpes, one of the most common sexually transmitted viral infections, causes periods of genital sores, followed by months or years of dormancy. It can't be cured, although the number and severity of outbreaks can be reduced through medication. Many women of reproductive age are unaware that they have the virus. In rare cases, infants can catch herpes simplex virus from the birth canal or genital region of the mother during birth, even when the mother isn't showing symptoms. Current medical protocol is to offer C-sections to all women with active genital herpes lesions at the time of delivery.

Nonetheless, 70 percent of neonatal herpes cases occur in infants of women who asymptomatically shed the virus near delivery, according to the researchers. ‘The whole goal of this study was to reduce active genital herpes lesions at delivery that require a Caesarean delivery to prevent neonatal herpes,’ Dr. Sheffield said. The UT Southwestern study, which involved 338 pregnant women with a history of genital herpes, was a randomized, double-blind trial, with neither the doctors nor the women
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