oa South African Family Practice - Herpes simplex virus I and II : a therapeutic approach
Herpes simplex viruses (HSV) are ubiquitous in humans, and infection with HSV produces a diverse spectrum of disease. The vast majority of HSV infections in adults are easily recognised and relatively benign in their clinical manifestation, but occasionally, life-threatening infections, affecting the viscera and the central nervous system, can occur. Genital herpes simplex virus type II (HSV-II) is the most common sexually transmitted infection worldwide, and increases the risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Suppressive anti-herpes therapy, despite being effective in reducing genital ulcer recurrence, does not reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Molecular diagnostic tools have revolutionised the ability to diagnose central nervous system infections and disseminated visceral disease accurately, and with the availability of relatively safe and effective antiviral therapy, potentially fatal outcomes can be averted if treatment is instituted early.
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