Dr. Wald and her team emphasized the importance of being able to go back to the general population with further trials, noting that it is very important to develop new drugs for this incredibly common infection. (HSV-2 affects approximately one in every six adults between the ages of 14 and 49 in the United States.) The virus can also be transmitted to newborns, and can cause serious illness and even death; it can also create serious and painful lesions in patients with suppressed immune systems. Furthermore, HSV-2 infections can actually increase the risk of getting or transmitting HIV.
As researchers are testing and developing new treatments for herpes infections, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has called for less routine testing
for the infection because “the potential harms of screening outweigh the benefits.” Because “blood test screening for genital herpes is highly inaccurate and there is no cure, so screening, early identification and treatment are unlikely to affect the course of the disease.” With this in mind, novel effective treatments for the infection are that much more important to ensure the population remains safe. Currently, the CDC states that 1 in 6 individuals aged 14 to 49 years are infected with genital herpes in the United States.
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