Seeking adults with herpes

Seeking adults with herpes
One in eight sexually active Australians has herpes down under.

"That could be you, your partner, friend or relative," warns former Big Brother housemate, Sara-Marie Fedele.

Sara-Marie and doctors nation wide are calling for volunteers over 18 with genital herpes to enrol in Australia's largest-ever study of a shorter treatment for the virus. Only two days versus the standard five.

Please note that people can register for this trial one of three ways, by:
Calling a 1800 number; OR SMSing their first name and postcode to 0427 HERPES; OR Visiting

Want to know more?

Australian doctors are calling for people over 18 with recurrent genital herpes to enrol in the country's largest-ever study of a short-course treatment for the virus.

The FaST study will compare the effectiveness of a new short-course treatment with a standard treatment for healing recurrent genital herpes lesions in adults.

If successful, the standard 10 dose treatment over five days will be replaced by a new four dose treatment over two days, making it easier and more convenient for people to manage their outbreaks.

Former Big Brother housemate, Sara-Marie Fedele, is spearheading a public health awareness campaign and calling for volunteers to enter the FaST study. "Herpes down under is common, yet so few people openly talk about it," said Sara-Marie. "One in eight sexually active Australians has genital herpes. That could be you, your partner, friend or relative," Sara-Marie said. "But no-one's judging you for having it and there's no reason to be ashamed," she said. "The good news is, if you're over 18 and have genital herpes, you can volunteer for a new study, testing a shorter treatment."

The FaST study will compare two ways of treating genital herpes using the same medicine, which is currently available in Australia. Approximately 40 sexual health centres and more than 150 GP sites are participating in this study nationwide. All participating doctors have a special interest in sexual health and relationships.

According to Dr Neil Bodsworth, Sexual Health Physician at Taylor Square Private Clinic, Sydney: "This is an interesting study that looks at two questions of real clinical significance for people living with genital herpes. "The first is whether a briefer and far more convenient, two-day course of an existing herpes antiviral treatment at a higher dose is as effective as the usual five-day course in treating a single outbreak. "Secondly, unlike other similar trials, we are studying two consecutive outbreaks to see whether either course of treatment can delay the next outbreak," Dr Bodsworth said.

"We are looking for people who have had at least three outbreaks within the past 12 months or one outbreak within three months of stopping recent suppressive treatment.

"Eligible participants will be given the study drug at their enrolment visit and then need to contact the study clinic at the first sign of their next outbreak. Around five days later they will return to the clinic to confirm whether, and how quickly their lesions have healed and will be given more drug for their next outbreak," said Dr Bodsworth.

"Importantly, there are no blood tests and no placebo."

All qualifying study participants will receive free treatment, quality medical care and their transport expenses to and from the study centre.

People wishing to volunteer should call (freecall) 1800 102 200, or SMS their first name and postcode to 0427 HERPES, that's 0427 437 737 or visit After volunteering, those eligible for the study will be provided with the contact details of their closest study centres. Genital herpes is a common, life-long infection transmitted through sexual contact. Anyone who has been sexually active may have the virus.

There are two types of the Herpes Simplex Virus - Herpes Type 1 and Herpes Type 2. Herpes Type 1 is the virus that most commonly causes cold sores on the lips and face. Herpes Type 2 is the virus that is usually responsible for genital herpes.

Approximately one in eight sexually active Australians has genital herpes. Of these, 20 per cent are aware that they have the virus, 60 per cent are unaware that they have it, but have symptoms, while another 20 per cent have no symptoms. Most of the time, the virus remains inactive in the bundle of nerves at the base of the spine. When reactivated, the virus travels down the nerve paths to the surface of the skin, sometimes causing an outbreak.

A typical genital herpes outbreak begins with an itching, burning or tingling sensation in the genital area and may be followed by a rash, small blisters or sores that may be painful. Once infected, the virus stays in the body for life. While some people will not experience any symptoms of herpes, others will. However the first outbreak is usually the worst.

"Because the virus may be transmitted even when those infected do not show any physical signs or symptoms, people with genital herpes are particularly concerned about the risk of infecting their partner," said Dr Bodsworth.

"Many people experience shock, anger and confusion after discovering that they have genital herpes. Some people avoid either telling their partner or getting into new relationships. "So it's important to discuss genital herpes with your current and potential partners. That way you can work together to reduce the likelihood of transmission," Dr Bodsworth said. "A counsellor may also prove helpful, as they have an understanding of both the medical and emotional issues associated with herpes. Herpes support groups also offer a confidential environment for discussing issues and information with others in a similar position."

While there is no cure for genital herpes, the infection can be successfully managed with reliable information, education and the use of effective, antiviral medications. These medications can be taken to speed healing when symptoms appear, or daily as a preventative measure to reduce the number of outbreaks. When combined with sensible, "safe sex" practices, these treatments significantly reduce the risk of passing herpes onto another.

Sara-Marie encourages those seeking information about herpes to: "Contact your local doctor or sexual health clinic for advice and contact details for counsellors and support groups in your local area. Or visit"

This study is being conducted by Australian doctors and sponsored by Novartis.

Related Link:
Sexually Transmitted Infections