Tenofovir, an active drug found in an experimental vaginal gel, can significantly reduce a woman’s risk of contracting genital herpes, a common and incurable sexually transmitted infection.


According to a recent study published in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’, Tenofovir based gel can help with the prevention of herpes simplex type 2; confirming past research. The research lead by Professor Salim Karim found that the gel halved women’s risk of infection if applied before and after sex. The trial followed some 400 participants. Past studies have shown that women who used the gel were between 39- 54 percent less likely to contract HSV-2.

HSV-2 is a strain of the herpes simplex virus that causes genital herpes. It is a highly contagious infection, and is transmitted via sexual contact. Around only 10-25% of people in the UK who have genital herpes are aware of it. 

Symptoms include blisters in the genital area which can be very painful. Many people on the other hand, may never have symptoms.  Although there are treatments for herpes if symptoms develop, there is actually no cure. Those already with the infection must take extra measures for protection such as using condoms and not having sexual intercourse during breakouts, although this does not completely prevent the virus transmission.

 The results of this research are promising; however, further research is likely to be needed for the drug to be approved for use as medication.

 Source: Karim SSA, Karim QA, Kharsany ABM, et al. Tenofovir Gel for the Prevention of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Infection. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2015.

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