Oncology (General Cancer)/hello


QUESTION: hi I just have a question I didn't know where to put.

I was wondering for what reason is it that viruses can't be cured? can any viruses be cured at all? what makes a virus incurable but you can cure bacteria?

ANSWER: One of the problems is that viruses reproduce within human cells, and use the machinery of the cell.  As such, you would have to kill all the human cells that the virus can infect in order to kill the virus.  However, there are drugs that can kill viruses.  Acyclovir can kill herpes viruses, and interferon can kill some viruses.  There are others as well.  Virus killing drugs work in two ways.  One is that they provide something like a substance the virus needs, but it's not quite the right thing, so it messes up the virus making it impossible to reproduce.  The other is that it stimulates the part of the immune system that affects viruses.  As mentioned above, there are many drugs in use and in development that can kill viruses.  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: wait wait wait wait. you say there is a drug that can kill the herpes virus?????

I was recently diagnosed with HSV2 from my late fiancee and my doctor pretty much said, you have it and you will have it for the rest of your life, get used to it.

She never mentioned there's any way to get rid of it.

How do I get this herpes killing drug? Who do I have to talk to?

genital herpes can be treated with acyclovir, valcyclovir, or famvir.  Like other herpes, these eliminate active viruses, but are not so successful with viruses that are "resting".  They are usually prescribed for people who have frequent outbreaks, and they are to  be taken at the first sign of an outbreak.  People who are in sexual relationships and have genital herpes may take a dose of valcyclivir every day to eliminate the risk of transmitting the virus.  If your doctor doesn't want to deal with this, you might see a urologist or gynecologist, or an infectuous disease specialist.  there is a new herpes drug called pritevir, which is still under investigation, which seems superior to the ones mentioned, all of which are available.  Hope this helps.  What your doctor said is currently true.  some people who have genital herpes have one or two bouts the first year, and then no more the rest of their lives.  Others have frequent bouts.  The drugs are effective during viral multiplication.  

Oncology (General Cancer)

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Donald Higby, M.D.


I can answer almost all questions related to the treatment and natural course of most kinds of cancer, especially cancers of prostate, colon, lung and breast.


I have been a practicing medical oncologist for 36 years, and have been chief of service at a major medical center for 25 years. I've also done research in cancer treatments.

American Society of Clinical Oncology

New England Journal of Medicine American Journal of Medicine Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Hematology Transfusion Medicine

MD, Stanford University Internal Medicine residency, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO Medical Oncology Fellowship, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

Awards and Honors
America's Best Physicians, last 14 years

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.