Objective: To assess the psychosocial well-being and quality of life among women with a new genital herpes simplex virus diagnosis.
Design: Data were collected by a cross-sectional survey.
Participants: Eighty-three women diagnosed with genital herpes simplex virus by culture, visual exam and/or a description of symptoms within the last 3 months were recruited from primary health care clinics by their provider.
Measures: Participants completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Recurrent Genital Herpes Quality of Life scale.
Results: Thirty-four percent of the women qualified as "clinical cases" for depression, and 64% were designated as "anxiety cases" based on Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale scoring methods. A majority of participants reported feeling ashamed about having herpes and worried about having an outbreak or giving herpes to someone else.
Conclusions: Despite substantial progress toward understanding genital herpes simplex virus epidemiology and transmission, a diagnosis of genital herpes continues to cause considerable psychosocial morbidity and to impact quality of life. There is a dearth of good evidence on how best to intervene to minimize the psychological impact of a diagnosis. Experts recommend addressing both the medical and psychological aspects of infection by providing antiviral therapy, written material, and resources.