Things I knew from high school science class: Viruses reproduce by hijacking a healthy cell and turning it into a virus parts factory, spitting out enzymes and proteins and using the cell’s normal functions to assemble them into new viruses. ZOMBIE CELL. The cell keeps manufacturing parts and building them into viruses until it bursts and the new viruses spill all over the place, looking for new healthy cells to attack.
Things I’ve learned about the herpes virus: It is a DNA virus (simply meaning that it has DNA), and DNA viruses need something called DNA polymerase to reproduce. DNA polymerase is an enzyme that uses the original strand of virus DNA as a template for building new DNA strands from all the new parts that the poor zombie cell is pumping out. He’s the guy with the IKEA instruction manual going, “Ok, we have two pieces of bread, some peanut butter, and some jelly. Put them together like this to make a sandwich.” Without this enzyme, the cell would just fill up to the gills with bread and jams and nut butters, and wouldn’t know what to do with them.
Things I’ve learned about Valtrex (or its generic form, valacyclovir): Valtrex is, of course, ingested as a pill. When its contents hit the intestines or liver, they’re metabolized into acyclovir. Acyclovir is a sneaky look-alike for a part of the cell that the DNA polymerase needs to build new viruses. So the guy with the IKEA instruction manual is going, “Yeah, we need this unicorn-looking tool to put these pieces together,” and reaches for the acyclovir, thinking that it’s the right tool, when really it’s not the right tool, and it doesn’t fit in the right grooves, and so the guy with the IKEA instruction manual can’t effectively build his new
bookshelvesviruses. And suddenly the guy with the IKEA instruction manual is standing balls-deep in piles and piles of bread, peanut butters and delicious jams, shaking his imposter unicorn-looking tool and wondering what the fuck when wrong. Because my god, he just wanted a delicious fucking sandwich, and is that so goddamn wrong.