Herpes genitalis is an infection associated with considerable morbidity. Acyclovir, though effective, must be taken daily to prevent recurrences. The effects of interferon on this infection were therefore investigated. In a randomised double blind study, 31 patients with first episodes of genital herpes infection were studied to assess the effect of interferon on the presenting episode and on recurrences. Interferon (5 X 10(6) IU) was administered once daily subcutaneously during a five day "treatment" period followed by a three month "maintenance" period (1 X 10(6) IU three times weekly). Interferon had no effect on first episode herpetic attacks. During interferon administration women showed a trend towards reduced healing time and viral shedding in recurrences, but the differences were not significant and no effect was noted in women after administration of interferon. Interferon reduced assessed healing time and viral shedding in recurrences, however, in men (p = 0.05) during interferon administration, and this continued as a trend after treatment.
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