Viral shedding of HSV occurs frequently in infected individuals. HSV is shed asymptomatically from multiple anatomical sites and shedding, like exposure, is a significant risk for transmission. However, the relationship between shedding frequency, viral titer and transmission is unknown. HSV-2 shedding is affected by the site and time since acquisition of infection. The advent of sensitive PCR techniques has shown that the magnitude and frequency of viral shedding is higher than shown previously with viral culture techniques. It has also clearly demonstrated that suppressive (daily) antiviral therapy reduces clinical and subclinical reactivation rates, and has been successfully used in the prevention of recurrent oral and genital HSV infections. A recent study has demonstrated that daily antiviral therapy with valaciclovir can significantly reduce transmission of HSV-2 between discordant heterosexual couples in monogamous relationships. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.