The psychosocial impact of serological diagnosis of asymptomatic herpes simplex virus type 2 infection

S. L. Rosenthal, Gregory Zimet, J. S. Leichliter, L. R. Stanberry, Kenneth Fife, Wanzhu Tu, D. I. Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives: To evaluate the impact of a positive herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) serological test on psychosocial functioning among people with no known history of genital herpes. Methods: Individuals (age 14-30 years) without a history of genital herpes were recruited from an urban university setting and sexually transmitted diseases (STD), primary care, and adolescent clinics. Participants completed a questionnaire addressing psychological functioning, psychosocial adjustment, and perceived quality of sex and were offered free HSV-2 antibody testing. 33 HSV-2 positive people and 60 HSV-2 negative people demographically matched from the same source of recruitment were reevaluated at a 3 month follow up visit. HSV-2 positive participants also completed a genital herpes quality of life (GHQOL) measure. Results: Of the 33 who were HSV-2 seropositive, four did not recall their diagnosis. In comparing those who were HSV-2 positive with those who were negative, repeated measures analysis of variance indicated there were no significant differences over time on any of the measures. None the less, many HSV-2 positive individuals indicated that the diagnosis had a notable impact on their quality of life. Also, among the HSV-2 positive people, lower GHQOL at the 3 month follow up was predicted by higher interpersonal sensitivity (r= -0.44, p<0.05), lower social support (r=0.40, p<0.05), and quality of sex (r=0.62, p<0.01) at baseline. Conclusions: A diagnosis of asymptomatic HSV-2 infection does not appear to cause significant lasting psychological difficulties. Those for whom the diagnosis had the greatest impact were interpersonally vulnerable before the diagnosis. These results suggest that assessment of interpersonal distress may be important to include as part of pretest and post-test counselling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-157
Number of pages4
JournalSexually Transmitted Infections
Volume82
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2006

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Human Herpesvirus 2
Virus Diseases
Herpes Genitalis
Quality of Life
Psychology
Social Adjustment
Serologic Tests
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Social Support
Counseling
Primary Health Care
Analysis of Variance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Immunology

Cite this

The psychosocial impact of serological diagnosis of asymptomatic herpes simplex virus type 2 infection. / Rosenthal, S. L.; Zimet, Gregory; Leichliter, J. S.; Stanberry, L. R.; Fife, Kenneth; Tu, Wanzhu; Bernstein, D. I.

In: Sexually Transmitted Infections, Vol. 82, No. 2, 04.2006, p. 154-157.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rosenthal, S. L. ; Zimet, Gregory ; Leichliter, J. S. ; Stanberry, L. R. ; Fife, Kenneth ; Tu, Wanzhu ; Bernstein, D. I. / The psychosocial impact of serological diagnosis of asymptomatic herpes simplex virus type 2 infection. In: Sexually Transmitted Infections. 2006 ; Vol. 82, No. 2. pp. 154-157.
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