Q. My daughter, a sophomore in college, has genital herpes. She is totally shattered because she now has an incurable disease. The student health service gave her a seven-day prescription for acyclovir. She was told she could get a refill when the infection comes back. Is there anything she can do to prevent an outbreak?
A. Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Surveys suggest that approximately 20 percent of all Americans are infected. Many might not even realize they carry the virus.
Usually, the first episode is the worst, and subsequent outbreaks are less severe. There are effective antiviral medications against herpes that can shorten the attack. These include Zovirax (acyclovir), Famvir (famciclovir) and Valtrex (valacyclovir). They work best when taken at the very earliest signs of an outbreak.
If your daughter experiences episodes more than once a month, she should ask her doctor whether suppressive therapy would be appropriate. Even while taking the medication, however, she could still infect a partner. People with no visible lesions may shed, or cast off, the virus, so her partner should always use a condom.
Q. What is the story on ibuprofen negating the benefits of aspirin? I need a low-dose aspirin for my heart and ibuprofen for tennis elbow.
A. The ability of aspirin to prevent blood clots is compromised by the regular use of pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Taking aspirin at least two hours before an occasional ibuprofen might not cause trouble. Regular daily use of both types of medicine together is not advised.
Vioxx, acetaminophen and diclofenac don't interfere with aspirin and might be a better solution for your sore elbow.