Current Herpes Vaccines
The odd thing is that there has been a vaccine around for the herpes virus for a while now: it’s called Zostavax. The thing is, though, that it’s a vaccine designed to prevent shingles, also known as “herpes zoster”–yes, the herpes virus causes the disease normally found in people over 60 usually known as shingles. In a 2005 study of 38,000 elderly adults, Zostavax prevented 1/2 the cases of shingles and reduced the number of cases of postherpetic neuralgia by 2/3. In October 2007 the vaccine was officially recommended in the U.S. for healthy adults aged 60 and over. Now, obviously, the problem with this is that it’s only effective against herpes zoster (shingles), and not cold sores or genital herpes, but don’t lose hope: the point of me telling you this is that herpes vaccines are in the works, and when one is successfully developed then another one for a different version of the virus, cold sores for example, is just one step away.
Vaccines Yet To Be Released
A much more promising vaccine that has been specifically said to potentially end up becoming a vaccine against HSV-1 (Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1, the strain of the virus that causes cold sores), is a vaccine currently in Phase III trials that’s designed to be a vaccine to prevent genital herpes in women. Herpes Simplex Type 2 (HSV-2) is typically the strain of herpes that causes genital herpes, but HSV-1 and HSV-2 are over 99% genetically identical and the scientists developing the vaccine are saying that they’ve found that those persons who: 1) Have never been exposed to either HSV-1 or HSV-2 and, 2) Receive the Herpevac vaccine, show immunity to both strains of the virus.
This means that the Herpevac vaccine, which is due to be approved by the FDA sometime in the very near future (probably less than a year), could potentially provide protection against HSV-1 IF you’ve never been exposed to herpes (either strain), thereby keeping you from ever developing a cold sore, or getting genital herpes for that matter (nice bonus isn’t it?).
If you’d like to get more information about the Herpevac trial OR you’d actually like to possibly participate in it (you must be a woman), then you can go to the official National Institute of Health Herpevac Trial for Women website at http://www.niaid.nih.gov/dmid/stds/herpevac/default.htm.