When Can I Stop Taking My Herpes Medication?

  • I have been taking medication for this disease for about 20 years.  My doctor recently told me that I am probably safe and that I can discontinue taking Acyclovir.  Can this be true?  Have I been spending money unnecessarily for many of these years?  I have not had an outbreak for at least 15 of those years.  I somehow feel cheated that none of my previous doctors indicated that I probably no longer needed to take the medicine.

      

    Daily long-term preventative medication, called suppressive therapy, is appropriate in some people with herpes to prevent severe and frequent recurrences and to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.  Studies show that if you develop an outbreak, the healing time is quicker and symptoms are less severe.

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    Acyclovir is the standard drug used for suppressive therapy, but famciclovir and valacyclovir are also effective.

      

    Once the infection is controlled, some physicians decrease the dose and often stop the drug altogether.  Currently, many patients stop suppressive therapy after about two years of treatment.

      

    Other patients stay on suppressive therapy for years to decrease the recurrence rate of the disease.  Since the frequency of the recurrences decreases over time without suppressive therapy and the treatment is expensive, lifelong therapy is not usually recommended.

     

    Important: We hope you find this general medical and health information useful, but this Q&A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor.  For all personal medical and health matters, including decisions about diagnoses, medications and other treatment options, you should always consult your doctor.See full Disclaimer.

Published On: March 14, 2007