OBJECTIVE--To investigate whether adverse psychological consequences and impaired sexual and interpersonal functioning are present in individuals suffering from recurrent genital herpes simplex infection (HSV). DESIGN--A questionnaire-based study completed by subjects defined as having more than one episode of HSV infection. SUBJECTS--Completed questionnaires were returned from 90 subjects; 40 from the department of genitourinary medicine at our hospital and 50 from members of the Herpes Association. RESULTS--Stress and being physically run-down were identified as provoking factors by the majority of individuals (78% and 56% respectively). The frequency of sexual activity was not different when comparing rates before and after infection (p < 0.001) and the majority of subjects had told partners of their infection. Women reported significantly greater disturbances in several psychological variables and reported a greater decrement in their general health. However, overall there were no differences in the psychological sequelae following herpes infection. CONCLUSIONS--The study suggests that, given time, most people are able to adjust psychologically to having recurrent herpes infection. However, for a minority of subjects this is not the case and these individuals may require psychotherapeutic intervention.
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