OBJECTIVE--To determine the variation in management of genital herpes by genitourinary physicians, and whether their duration of experience or gender influence their clinical management. METHODS--A postal questionnaire was sent to UK consultant genitourinary physicians with detailed questions about management of primary and recurrent herpes. The gender and duration of genitourinary medicine experience of the physicians were also recorded. RESULTS--One hundred and eighty two questionnaires were sent, 112 (62%) returned. Eighty-one (72%) physicians treat all patients with primary genital herpes, but physicians with more than 20 years experience were significantly (p < 0.05) more likely to treat only "severe" primary attacks. Most experienced physicians were also most likely (p < 0.05) to prescribe topical acyclovir. Prescription of suppressive acyclovir was also influenced by the experience of the physician, the least experienced physicians being more likely to prescribe to patients who were HIV antibody positive or to those entering new relationships, whereas the more experienced prescribed to those patients who were particularly anxious (p < 0.05 for each of these). Male physicians were significantly more likely to agree with the proposition that men cope better with genital herpes (54%) than female physicians (24%, p < 0.01). CONCLUSION--The response to the questionnaire illustrates that management of genital herpes is influenced by the duration of the physicians clinical experience. Gender of the physician may have an indirect role to play as we have shown that physicians differ in their perception of how the sexes cope with genital herpes.
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