Dr. Kenneth Fife of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis and colleagues found the commonly prescribed drug for genital herpes, acyclovir, reduced herpes genital ulcers by 73 percent and reduced the amount of HIV present in the blood and genital tract twofold.
"Logic indicated that outbreaks of herpes simplex virus-2 sores could enhance the transmission of HIV," Fife said in a statement.
However, the five-year international clinical study, published online in advance of print in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded there was no significant difference in the transmission of HIV. Laboratory testing showed 41 infections in the group taking acyclovir and 43 in the placebo group.
The study was conducted at 14 sites in seven sub-Saharan countries: Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Recruitment began in November 2004 and concluded in October 2008.