Introduction In 2014, the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV updated guidelines detailing the expected management of Anogenital Herpes type 2 (HSV-2). This study aims to evaluate counselling given to patients with HSV-2 and determine how clinicians are dealing with sensitive topics that arise during these consultations.
Methods 210 UK Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics were sent an anonymous questionnaire, the results of which were analysed and compared with current guidelines. A pilot mystery shopping study, involving a patient with a reported recent HSV-2 diagnosis, was performed in 3 UK GUM Clinics. Details of each consultation were graded as A (acceptable), U (unacceptable) or C (a cause for concern) by a panel of 6 experts.
Results Analysis of the returned questionnaires showed inconsistencies in answers between clinicians and guidelines. The advice given during the visits was graded 69.7% A, 16.8% C and 13.5% U. Staff performed well with providing emotional support and guiding patients to extra materials (84.5% A) but did significantly less well on topics such as disclosure (65.9% A, p=0.0025), transmission (71.8% A, p=0.032) and pregnancy (53.9% A, p=0.000013) (Pearson’s Chi-squared test).
Discussion The study has exposed some short falls in clinical practice, which should be addressed by future guidelines and education events at BASHH, should they be supported by a larger-scale study. Returning anonymised data to participating clinics may allow them to deal with discrepancies in their practice.
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