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Tuesday, 19 September, 2000, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Red wine 'can stop herpes'

A compound in red wine prevents herpes from entering the body
An ingredient of red wine could prevent the spread of herpes, according to scientists.

Research carried out in the US has found that the compound in red wine, when daubed on infectious sores, can stop a sufferer passing it on and could even lessen the chance of sores developing fully.

The scientists suggest this compound could also be used to treat facial cold sores if rubbed onto the affected area before the sores appear.

They also suggest it could be put in condoms or contraceptive foams to prevent the spread of genital herpes.

Herpes is caused by two different viruses. The first called herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) causes cold sores. The second is called herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) or genital herpes.

Neither are curable or fatal if contracted by an adult. Genital herpes can cause painful blisters, ulcers or crusts in the genital area and the buttocks.

It can be dangerous if passed from mother to baby during pregnancy causing blindness and life-threatening illness in the infant.

Genital herpes is a growing problem. One in five people in the US are believed to have been infected by the virus.

However, because of the nature of the virus few are aware they have contracted it.

This is because the virus can lie dormant in the body and many of the symptoms can appear sporadically, over weeks, months or even years.

However, scientists at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine believe their discovery could help doctors to control the virus.

They maintain that a compound in red wine, called resveratrol, can stop the virus. The compound has previously been found to protect against heart disease.

After carrying out tests and developing a slightly modified form of the compound, called stil-5, they found that this stopped infection in 99.9% of cases.

The scientists were speaking at the Interscience Conference on Anti-Microbial Agents and Chemotherapy in Toronto, Canada.


The conference also heard that scientists from working with SmithKline Beecham believe they have developed a vaccine against the virus.

However, the vaccine only works on women and is only effective in those who have never contracted herpes.

A vaccine would be very helpful

Dr Chris Sonnex, Addenbrooke's Hospital

Nevertheless, scientists have hailed the vaccine as a major breakthrough in the fight against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

According to New Scientist website, they say the vaccine if licensed could be used on young girls before they become sexually active and could reduce the spread of the disease in high-risk groups.

Dr. Chris Sonnex, a consultant in genito-urinary medicine at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, welcomed both findings.

He said more research was needed but said any attempts to develop a vaccine would be helpful.

"About 10% of the population in the UK are infected with type 2 herpes.

"A vaccine would be very helpful and should prevent you from acquiring the virus," he said.

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08 May 00 | Health
Men 'ignorant about sex disease'
23 Mar 00 | Health
Ignorance spreading herpes
29 Jun 99 | Health
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