Fifty seven patients experiencing first attacks of genital herpes simplex virus infection (HSVI) were compared with 50 patients who were concerned about frequently recurring attacks despite routine counselling and reassurance. Using the general health questionnaire this latter group was found to be more psychologically distressed and more socially naive than the first attack group, as measured by socioeconomic class and the lie score of the Eysenck personality questionnaire; otherwise the two groups were similar. Patients presenting to clinics with frequently recurring genital HSVI may therefore be especially psychologically distressed, socially naive, and disadvantaged. Managing these patients needs to include understanding these problems as well as giving advice and using antiviral agents.
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