HSV-1 and HSV-2: Medications, Effectiveness, and Beyond

Cover Image for HSV-1 and HSV-2: Medications, Effectiveness, and Beyond
Posted underSexual Health

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) presents in two forms – HSV-1 and HSV-2, each affecting different parts of the body and presenting unique challenges. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 47.8% of people aged 14 to 49 carry HSV-1, and about 11.9% carry HSV-2. Understanding the differences between the two is the first step towards effective treatment.

HSV-1 primarily causes oral herpes, resulting in sores around the mouth and lips, colloquially known as cold sores or fever blisters. On the other hand, HSV-2 is generally responsible for genital herpes, which results in sores around the genitals or rectum.

Although the two types are distinct, there’s an overlap in the body areas they can affect. HSV-1, for instance, can also cause genital herpes through oral-genital contact. Conversely, HSV-2 can also cause oral herpes through genital-oral contact, although this is less common.

Regardless of the type, the viruses live dormantly in the body’s nerve cells and can reactivate, causing outbreaks.

So, how can these two forms of HSV be treated?

Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be managed effectively using antiviral medications. These drugs work by stopping the virus from multiplying, reducing the severity and, in some cases, the frequency of outbreaks. The most common antiviral medications used to treat HSV include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir (generic Valtrex).

These medications are highly effective, with studies showing they can reduce the frequency of outbreaks by 70% to 80% when taken daily in people with frequent recurrences. They also aid in faster healing during outbreaks and may lower the risk of transmission to others.

Valacyclovir (Valtrex), in particular, has shown excellent results, with its once-daily dosage offering a convenient treatment option. At Cue, we offer this medication, making it easier for people living with HSV to access it affordably and conveniently.

It’s important to note that while these medications effectively manage HSV, they don’t cure it. HSV stays in the body and can reactivate, causing symptoms. However, even during dormant periods without symptoms, an individual can still transmit the virus to others.

Hence, consistent use of antiviral medications is often recommended, even during periods without outbreaks, especially for people with HSV-2 due to the higher transmission rate. This form of treatment, known as suppressive therapy, can reduce the likelihood of transmission and also the frequency of outbreaks.

Alongside medication, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management, can also contribute significantly to managing HSV effectively.

While living with HSV can be challenging, it is manageable with the right approach to treatment. Available antiviral medications, coupled with a balanced lifestyle, can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of HSV outbreaks.

Remember, taking control of your health is within your grasp. Be it getting tested with our discreet at-home test, ordering medication, or consulting with a clinician, you are empowered to manage your health effectively.

This information is presented in summary form, general in nature, and for informational purposes only. Content is not intended nor recommended to substitute for professional medical advice. For personal medical advice, always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. The tests offered are subject to change and subject to availability. Due to state restrictions, this Cue Product is not available for individuals located in the state of New York. Other state restrictions may apply for specific tests. Please refer to our support page for detailed product terms and conditions.


  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/herpes-simplex-virus
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db304.htm
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db304.htm
  4. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/herpes-hsv1-and-hsv2/oral-herpes
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/genital-herpes/symptoms-causes/syc-20356161
  6. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-941/acyclovir-oral/details
  7. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-6157/famciclovir-oral/details
  8. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/valacyclovir-oral-route/description/drg-20066635
  9. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2000/0315/p1697.html
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2687913/


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