Background HSV is the leading cause of genital ulcerative disease worldwide. Medical experts condemned the first UK prosecution for genital herpes transmission in 2011. There is a lack of research investigating what patients are being advised by the multidisciplinary team regarding disclosure.
Aim To explore the nature of advice given to patients by the multidisciplinary team regarding HSV disclosure to partners.
Methods A qualitative descriptive study. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted. Participants: two sexual health advisors, three nurses, three consultants and two specialty doctors. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using Burnard’s Thematic Content Analysis.
Results Four key themes emerged: (1) ‘HSV – The Facts’, explored the medical aspects of the infection; (2) ‘Stigma and Psychological Aspects of HSV’, explored participant’s experiences of the emotional aspects of HSV; (3) ‘The Challenge of Disclosure’, explored participant’s views and experiences of discussing disclosure; (4) ‘The Legal Case – Revenge not Justice’, explored participant’s views on the legal prosecution.
Discussion/conclusion Participants believed disclosure to be the patient’s choice. There was a general consensus that disclosure was not required due to the prevalence of HSV. Notably, participants had not altered their practice to advise disclosure to all partners in accordance with local protocol. An aspect found within the findings but not in the previous literature was the normalisation of HSV. Participants used the prevalence of HSV in an attempt to normalise and de-stigmitise the infection. This study disputed a key finding from the literature review that healthcare providers were providing inaccurate information about HSV.