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Healthy transfer of genital herpes.

Healthy transmission of genital herpes

People with genital herpes can evidently transmit the infection even if they show no signs of it. In the June 12 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, James F. Rooney, Stephen E. Straus and their colleagues at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md., document the transmission of herpes by an asymptomatic man.

The man was taking part in a trial of weekend-only use of acyclovir, a drug that controls the replication of herpesvirus, and keeping careful records of his symptoms. He had sexual relations with a woman during a symptom-free period; the woman developed genital blisters five days later. Characterization of her virus indicated it was structurally identical to his.

The study, say the researchers, provides biochemical proof of asymptomatic transmission, which has been shown with epidemiologic data. Last year Gregory Mertz, then at the University of Washington in Seattle and now at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, reported on 66 people with new cases of genital herpes. Of the sources, 62 percent had had no evidence of oral or genital herpes in the three weeks prior to transmitting the disease; many of them did not even know they had herpes. Mary Guinan of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, a coauthor of that study, estimates that only about a quarter of all people with genital herpes have symptoms.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 28, 1986
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