Objectives: We conducted this study to compare episodic and suppressive therapy for genital herpes about disease characteristics, disease burden, and psychologic impact.
Study design: The authors conducted a randomized, open-label, 1-year treatment trial.
Results: Forty subjects were randomized to episodic therapy with valacyclovir (500 mg twice daily for 5 days) and 40 to suppressive therapy (500 mg daily). Subjects in the episodic arm experienced more outbreaks (7.87 +/- 4.65) than those in the suppressive arm (1.59 +/- 1.93) (P <0.001). Subjects in the episodic arm also had significantly more days with pain and lesions (6.5 +/- 7.3) than those in the suppressive arm (1.1 +/- 3.3) (P < 0.001), and other quantitative measures of disease burden also favored the suppressive arm. Both treatment groups had significant improvements in their recurrent genital herpes quality-of-life scores from baseline that persisted throughout the study; however, there was no significant difference between the treatment arms in these scores.
Conclusions: Suppressive therapy of recurrent genital herpes with valacyclovir has a greater impact on measures of disease frequency and burden than episodic therapy. However, both treatment strategies lead to significant improvements in recurrent genital herpes quality-of-life scores. Both treatment strategies benefit patients with recurrent genital herpes.