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Ann Intern Med. 1998 Jan 1;128(1):21-8.

Famciclovir for the suppression of symptomatic and asymptomatic herpes simplex virus reactivation in HIV-infected persons. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

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University of Washington, Seattle, USA.



Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection is one of the most common opportunistic infections in HIV-infected persons. However, most documentation of the effectiveness of antiviral therapy in reducing HSV reactivation is anecdotal.


To evaluate the quantitative effect of antiviral therapy on the frequency of HSV reactivation in HIV-infected persons.


Double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.


Research clinic at a university hospital.


48 persons (45 men and 3 women) who were HIV positive and HSV seropositive.


Patients were randomly assigned to receive famciclovir, 500 mg orally twice daily, or placebo for 8 weeks. They then crossed over to receive the other regimen after a 1-week washout period.


Patients obtained daily cultures of their perirectal, urethral, oral, and genital areas and kept dairy records of signs and symptoms of genital and oral-labial herpes.


The median CD4 cell count at study entry was 384 cells/mm3. In the intention-to-treat analysis of the first study period, HSV was isolated on 122 of 1114 (11%) placebo days compared with 9 of 1071 (1%) famciclovir days (relative risk, 0.15; P < 0.001). For patients who completed the crossover, the median difference in days with symptoms between placebo and famciclovir was 13.8% of days and the median difference in days on which HSV was isolated was 5.4% of days (P < 0.001 for both). Percentage of days with HSV-2 shedding was reduced from 9.7% to 1.3%. Breakthrough reactivations that occurred while patients were receiving famciclovir were infrequent, short, and often asymptomatic, HSV-2 isolates from these reactivations were susceptible to penciclovir in vitro.


Antiviral chemotherapy with famciclovir results in clinically and statistically significant reductions in the symptoms associated with HSV infection and the symptomatic and asymptomatic shedding of HSV among HIV-positive persons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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