Herpes Suppression Drug Not Linked to Less HIV

Over more than one year, acyclovir not associated with lower incidence of HIV-1

FRIDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- Although herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection is associated with increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition, HSV-2 suppressive therapy with acyclovir wasn't associated with a reduced incidence of HIV-1, according to research published in the June 21 issue of The Lancet.

Connie Celum, M.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues analyzed data from 3,172 HSV-2 seropositive women (in Africa) and men who have sex with men (from Peru and the United States) who were randomized to receive 400 mg of acyclovir twice daily or placebo for 12 to 18 months. Subjects were seen monthly for drug dispensation and risk counseling, and every three months for examination and HIV testing.

With HIV-1 incidence of 3.9 per 100 person-years in the treatment group and 3.3 per 100 person-years in the placebo group, the researchers didn't find a significant difference between the groups. Adherence to the treatment was high, with 94 percent adherence in each group, the report indicates.

"Control of sexually transmitted infections provides important benefits for public health and individuals, and should unquestionably be provided and promoted for this reason. However, the hypothesis that control of sexually transmitted infections can prevent the spread of HIV in populations has been extensively tested and is not supported by evidence in seven of eight trials. It is, therefore, questionable whether control of such infections should be promoted specifically for HIV prevention in HIV-negative populations," write Ronald H. Gray, and Maria J. Wawer, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, in an accompanying commentary.

GlaxoSmithKline provided funding for the study. Celum and several co-authors disclosed relationships with the company and/or other pharmaceutical companies.

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