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Lancet. 2012 Feb 18;379(9816):641-7. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61750-9. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

Standard-dose and high-dose daily antiviral therapy for short episodes of genital HSV-2 reactivation: three randomised, open-label, cross-over trials.

Author information

  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98104, USA. cjohnsto@u.washington.edu

Erratum in

  • Lancet. 2012 Feb 18;379(9816):616.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Skin and mucosal herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) shedding predominantly occurs in short subclinical episodes. We assessed whether standard-dose or high-dose antiviral therapy reduces the frequency of such shedding.

METHODS:

HSV-2-seropositive, HIV-seronegative people were enrolled at the University of Washington Virology Research Clinic (WA, USA). We did three separate but complementary open-label cross-over studies comparing no medication with aciclovir 400 mg twice daily (standard-dose aciclovir), valaciclovir 500 mg daily (standard-dose valaciclovir) with aciclovir 800 mg three times daily (high-dose aciclovir), and standard-dose valaciclovir with valaciclovir 1 g three times daily (high-dose valaciclovir). The allocation sequence was generated by a random number generator. Study drugs were supplied in identical, numbered, sealed boxes. Study periods lasted 4-7 weeks, separated by 1 week wash-out. Participants collected genital swabs four times daily for quantitative HSV DNA PCR. Clinical data were masked from laboratory personnel. The primary endpoint was within-person comparison of shedding rate in each study group. Analysis was per protocol. The trials are registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT00362297, NCT00723229, NCT01346475).

RESULTS:

Of 113 participants randomised, 90 were eligible for analysis of the primary endpoint. Participants collected 23 605 swabs; 1272 (5·4%) were HSV-positive. The frequency of HSV shedding was significantly higher in the no medication group (n=384, 18·1% of swabs) than in the standard-dose aciclovir group (25, 1·2%; incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0·05, 95% CI 0·03-0·08). High-dose aciclovir was associated with less shedding than standard-dose valaciclovir (198 [4·2%] vs 209 [4·5%]; IRR 0·79, 95% CI 0·63-1·00). Shedding was less frequent in the high-dose valaciclovir group than in the standard-dose valaciclovir group (164 [3·3%] vs 292 [5·8%]; 0·54, 0·44-0·66). The number of episodes per person-year did not differ significantly for standard-dose valaciclovir (22·6) versus high-dose aciclovir (20·2; p=0·54), and standard-dose valaciclovir (14·9) versus high-dose valaciclovir (16·5; p=0·34), but did for no medication (28·7) and standard-dose aciclovir (10·0; p=0·001). Median episode duration was longer for no medication than for standard-dose aciclovir (13 h vs 7 h; p=0·01) and for standard-dose valaciclovir than for high-dose valaciclovir (10 h vs 7 h; p=0·03), but did not differ significantly between standard-dose valaciclovir and high-dose aciclovir (8 h vs 8 h; p=0·23). Likewise, maximum log(10) copies of HSV detected per mL was higher for no medication than for standard dose aciclovir (3·3 vs 2·9; p=0·02), and for standard-dose valaciclovir than for high-dose valaciclovir (2·5 vs 3·0; p=0·001), but no significant difference was recorded for standard-dose valaciclovir versus high-dose aciclovir (2·7 vs 2·8; p=0·66). 80% of episodes were subclinical in all study groups. Except for a higher frequency of headaches with high-dose valaciclovir (n=13, 30%) than with other regimens, all regimens were well tolerated.

INTERPRETATION:

Short bursts of subclinical genital HSV reactivation are frequent, even during high-dose antiherpes therapy, and probably account for continued transmission of HSV during suppressive antiviral therapy. More potent antiviral therapy is needed to eliminate HSV transmission.

FUNDING:

NIH. Valaciclovir was provided for trial 3 for free by GlaxoSmithKline.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Comment in

PMID:
22225814
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3420069
Free PMC Article

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