New treatment alternative offers discreet and effective way to help patients
Herpes is one of the world’s most prevalent viruses – nearly half a billion patients worldwide suffer from genital herpes and billions more report oral herpes infections. Yet, despite the high incidence rate and many high-profile attempts to revolutionize care, a dearth of effective treatments and a widespread stigmatization of the virus have forced sufferers to endure their pain in silence.
Regardless of the strain, either HSV-1 or HSV-2, the most common complications involve genital or oral lesions, which can be quite visible, painful, and embarrassing for patients. It’s these lesions – both their appearance and others’ reactions to them – that induce serious psychological side effects for those with herpes diagnoses.
Researchers and pharmaceutical companies have worked tirelessly to treat herpes’ most obvious symptoms. Antivirals like penciclovir and valacyclovir are widely prescribed. Doctors typically take one of two treatment courses: intermittent treatment, in which patients take medication once an outbreak begins, and suppressive treatment, in which patients take antivirals every day. However, these antivirals, known within the medical community as nucleoside inhibitors, are limited in scope; they improve symptoms but fail to stop virus transmission or improve more severe cases.
Recent years have also seen the development of potential therapeutic vaccines, which elicit a T cell response to fight infection. These efforts have faced multiple roadblocks because scientists have struggled to identify the exact target that would trigger the T cell response for herpes specifically. There has also been some early progress regarding preventative vaccine development and experimentation with CRISPR/Cas9, a breakthrough gene editing tool.
However, antivirals are the only treatment option currently available to patients and don’t have 100% efficacy in stopping outbreaks or other herpes-related symptoms. Additionally, none of the above treatment options take into account herpes’ invisible side effect – stigmatization and its psychological impact.
This aspect of herpes infection warrants the scientific and medical communities’ attention. A 2010 study published in The Journal of Health Psychology reviewed the psychological health of herpes sufferers and found a correlation between patients’ poor coping mechanisms (due to perceived negativity from others) and higher recurrences of outbreaks. The higher recurrence rate then reinforced the stigmatic cycle. In short, the stigma not only led patients in the study to hide their diagnosis but also worsened their condition, prolonging their silence.
Similarly, a 2018 study examined the many aspects of patients’ psychological distress, including negative self-image, concern about public attitudes, fears of disclosing their status to sexual partners, and their own stigma. The higher these subjects’ psychological distress, the more likely it was that they had low perceived social support, among other variables. The study recommended using a new tool, the Genital Herpes Stigma Scale, in clinical settings to reduce herpes patients’ negative feelings.
The stigma has deep roots around the world, especially in America – despite the fact that herpes is a virus more of physical discomfort than medical complication. Herpes symptoms can be troubling and more severe in some cases, but the virus itself only poses life-threatening health risks in those with weakened immune systems, and even then, the virus is treatable. Furthermore, many people suffer or have suffered from other infections in the herpes category, including chickenpox (varicella zoster virus), shingles, and mononucleosis. Yet herpes – genital and oral – has become the primary target of long-lasting social stigma.
Early coverage of herpes treated the virus like other common infections, writing it off as nothing more problematic than a cold or the flu. In fact, a 1976 New York Times Magazine article said herpes viruses were “like bacteria and pollution”, ever-present and nothing to fear. But also around this time, many publications like TIME and the Los Angeles Times began printing stories that connected herpes to moral depravity. By the early 1980s, this became a widely held view, which was echoed in other mediums including network television.
This view held steady, leading many herpes patients to grow ashamed of their diagnosis and many others to fear a diagnosis to an unreasonable degree, thus adding a psychosocial layer to a medical issue that, though not grave, had limited treatment paths.
Today, the same challenges remain – an overreliance on antivirals, without the promise of vaccines or more effective treatments, and a popular stigma founded in fear, not science. This leaves herpes patients in a difficult spot.
Many improvements could help these patients in the long run – tools like the Genital Herpes Stigma Scale, global education campaigns to dispel herpes myths, more aggressive funding and research to bring myriad treatment options to market. But rising company Synergy Pharmaceuticals has opted for a different approach.
Synergy’s Combination Herpes Treatment isn’t just a medication, it’s the long awaited cure. Made from five natural ingredients – a Unique Amino Formula, Astragalus, Tribulus, Rhodiola, and L-Lysine – the holistic treatment according to Synergy weakens herpes’ viral envelope until it dies out, stopping both outbreaks and transmission. Patients who took Synergy’s treatment for a period of 4 – 6 months exhibited no symptoms and tested negative for the virus in subsequent blood tests.
The results from Synergy’s drug trials showed a level of unprecedented success, offering hope for patients who wish to overcome the virus’ physical complications. But additionally, the Combination Herpes Treatment is available direct-to-consumer via Synergy’s website, which equates to a user-friendly, discreet way for patients to seek help, and at that, help that works.
To gain a more complete assessment of this treatment from Synergy, we ran an independent review with 10 people who had what would deem to be quite aggressive HSV 2 infections of the monthly to bi-monthly range. Over the course of 6 months, we were able to monitor their outbreaks and symptoms as they proceeded to take the combination. Of the 10 people involved, seven showed a dramatic reduction in outbreaks to the point that by the conclusion they no longer reported any substantial outbreaks of any type. Of the remaining three people, two reported that there was a significant reduction however; they had experienced some form of symptoms at or before the final stages of treatment. The final person reported an improvement but still experienced outbreaks. Keep in mind this was not a clinical trial and we did not assess their diet or blood work and only their symptoms.
What studies have shown over many years is that herpes patients suffer two illnesses – one of the body and one of mental health. Extremely limited treatments fail to offer complete relief of symptoms, and social stigma denies these patients a medical and personal support system that can help them overcome the psychological trauma often associated with a herpes diagnosis. Synergy Pharmaceuticals’ breakthrough herpes cure offers a two-pronged solution, to help patients sidestep public disclosure and ridicule, and also achieve full health.
Though many scientific trials continue, potentially advancing herpes treatment through multiple avenues, the Combination Herpes Treatment is a game-changing holistic achievement that puts patients’ health and peace of mind first.