As a national expert in the field of herpes, both oral and genital, I read the report from Duke with great interest. This is a breakthrough and one that looks promising.
As soon as a person has the first sign that a cold sore might be on it's way, it's recommended that they take 2 grams of valacyclovir (valtrex) twice a day for one day. So, even if it just feels like a paper cut, or some itching, hit it early and hit it hard.
There are many types of herpes viruses, including HSV 1 which typically causes oral cold sores, but can also cause genital lesions when people have oral sex. The herpes virus lies dormant and doesn't cause symptoms, until something triggers it. Sometimes the triggers are sunlight, or lack of sleep, or stress. Often, it's difficult to figure out what the trigger is.
To suppress the virus from shedding and to prevent outbreaks, many people use valacyclovir, the pro-drug of acyclovir. This medication provides 5 times the blood levels of acycylovir and can be taken once each day to prevent outbreaks. I recommend it for my patients when they anticipate a big event, like a wedding, travel, or a presentation. It must be taken for at least 5 days to suppress viral replication.
Oral medications work better, because they stop the virus from reproducing (viral replication). The topical creams can be used, but I recommend them with the oral medications. As always, it's best to check with your own health care provider about what is best for you.
Here's 3 great resources on herpes:
American Social Health Organization: http://www.ashastd.org
Web MD: http://www.webmd.com
Westover Heights clinic: http://www.westoverheights.com/genital_herpes.html
For more women's health information see: www.nursebarb.com