Jan 31 2008
Question: Could you tell me which of the STDs can’t be cured?
This question was emailed in and while the information that answers it can be found on this website, I thought I would put all the information together in one place (here).
The sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can not be cured are Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Herpes, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and Molluscum Contagiosum virus (MCV).
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a very common virus that a majority of people will be infected with by the time they are 40. Most of those infections will occur during childhood and won’t be through sexual contact. For people who are healthy, CMV will usually lie dormant or cause symptoms so mild they will be confused with other illnesses’ symptoms.
People who have a weakened immune system or are born with CMV can have severe complications. The antiviral drugs ganciclovir and valganciclovir can be used to try and control the virus, but won’t cure it.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection that can damage the liver. Most people will have symptoms from it, but taking an immunoglobulin (a protein that fights infection) can help reduce or prevent symptoms from occurring.
There is no cure, but people with healthy immune systems will fight the virus off.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that can damage the liver. Some people will have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all from it. In most cases a healthy body will fight the virus off, but for some people the infection can become chronic.
If an infection becomes chronic, the anti-viral drugs interferon, lamivudine (Epivir), adefovir dipivoxil (HepseraTM), entecavir (BeracludeTM), and peginterferon (Pegasys®) can help manage it.
Hepatitis C is also a viral infection that can damage the liver. Most people will not have any symptoms from it, but will usually have mild to moderate damage done to their livers. In most cases the body won’t be able to fight the virus off and the infection will become chronic.
The drugs interferon, alpha interferon, pegylated interferon, or a combination therapy of ribavarin and interferon can help treat the infection, but will not cure it.
Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Usually HSV-1 causes oral herpes while HSV-2 causes genital herpes. Most people will be infected by at least one of the HSV types.
Symptoms of herpes come in episodes and can be mild and confused for other conditions. For people who have more severe symptoms the anti-viral drugs Zovirax® (acyclovir), Valtrex® (valacyclovir), and Famvir® (famciclovir) can help reduce the frequency of reoccurring episodes.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). People infected with HIV may not show any symptoms for years. A diagnosis of AIDS occurs when HIV has done severe damage to the immune system. AIDS can cause people to become very ill and die.
While HIV does not have a cure, anti-retroviral drugs can slow it down and prolong people’s lives.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a group of viruses that include more than one hundred different strains of the virus. Only about thirty of these strains cause genital warts and of those thirty, only a few are considered high risk and can cause cancer.
Health care providers can remove the warts caused by HPV. That will not cure it, but will prevent it from spreading to other areas of the body.
Molluscum Contagiosum virus (MCV) is a fairly common virus that infects the skin. When it infects people around the genital areas it is considered an STD. Most people will not have any symptoms, those that do will experience round bumps.
While MCV does not have a cure, people with healthy immune systems will be able to fight the virus off on their own.
As you may have noticed, I did include STDs that the human body can usually fight off. While that could be considered a cure, it is not a medical one, and someone without a healthy immune system would be stuck with the STD.
Healthy or not, some STDs will be lifelong infections, so remember to be safe and use condoms.