What is valacyclovir hydrochloride?
Valacyclovir hydrochloride is anprescription medicine approved by the U.S. (FDA) for the following treatment and prevention uses for certain types of herpes simplex (HSV) :
- To treat initial or recurrent episodes of genital herpes in healthy adults
- To treat cold sores (also known as herpes labialis, orolabial herpes, or orolabial lesions) in adults and children
- To prevent genital herpes outbreaks in adults living with HIV
- To reduce the risk of transmitting genital herpes to other people
- To treat (also known as herpes zoster) in adults
- To treat chicken pox (also known as primary varicella infection) in children
HSV and VZV infections are opportunistic infections (OIs) of HIV. An OI is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as people with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems. To learn more about OIs, read the HIVinfo What is an Opportunistic Infection? fact sheet.
How is valacyclovir hydrochloride used in people with HIV?
The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents include recommendations on the uses of valacyclovir hydrochloride in people with HIV.
Using a medicine as indicated on the medicine label is called; using the medicine in a different way is called . Off-label use, for example, can include using a drug for a different disease or medical condition. Good medical practice and the best interests of a patient sometimes require that a medicine be used off-label.
The guidelines include recommendations on the following uses of valacyclovir hydrochloride:
- HSV infections, including cold sores and genital lesions
- VZV infections, including shingles and chicken pox
- Prevent chicken pox from occurring in certain people who come in contact with someone who has active shingles or chicken pox
- Prevent cold sores and genital lesions caused by HSV infection from recurring
The above list may not include all of the HIV-related uses of valacyclovir hydrochloride recommended in the guidelines. Some recommended uses, such as uses in certain rare circumstances, may have been omitted.
What should I tell my health care provider before taking valacyclovir hydrochloride?
Before taking valacyclovir hydrochloride, tell your health care provider:
- If you are allergic to valacyclovir hydrochloride or any other medicines.
- About any medical conditions you have or have had, for example, kidney or nervous system problems.
- About anything that could affect your ability to take medicines, such as difficulty swallowing or remembering to take caplets.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether valacyclovir hydrochloride can harm an unborn baby is unknown. Talk to your health care provider about possible risks with taking valacyclovir hydrochloride when pregnant.
- If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you have HIV.
- About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Valacyclovir hydrochloride may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how valacyclovir hydrochloride works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between valacyclovir hydrochloride and the other medicines you take.
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from valacyclovir hydrochloride. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
How should I take valacyclovir hydrochloride?
Take valacyclovir hydrochloride according to your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much valacyclovir hydrochloride to take and when to take it. Before you start valacyclovir hydrochloride and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.
How should valacyclovir hydrochloride be stored?
- Store valacyclovir hydrochloride caplets at room temperature, 59°F to 77°F (15°C to 25°C).
- Store valacyclovir hydrochloride suspension between 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C) in a refrigerator. Discard after 28 days.
- Keep valacyclovir hydrochloride in the container that it came in and keep the container tightly closed.
- Do not use valacyclovir hydrochloride if the original seal over the container opening is broken or missing.
- Throw away valacyclovir hydrochloride that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
- Keep valacyclovir hydrochloride and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about valacyclovir hydrochloride?
More information about valacyclovir hydrochloride is available:
- Recommendations on the HIV-related uses of valacyclovir hydrochloride, from the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, prepared by the , the , and the HIV Medicine Association of the Diseases Society of America
- Valacyclovir hydrochloride-related research studies, from
The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Caplet.
Last Reviewed: January 31, 2019