Herpes simplex virus proctitis in homosexual men. Clinical, sigmoidoscopic, and histopathological features

N Engl J Med. 1983 Apr 14;308(15):868-71. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198304143081503.


Acute herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection was detected in 23 of 102 consecutively examined, sexually active male homosexuals who presented with anorectal pain, discharge, tenesmus, or hematochezia, as compared with 3 of 75 homosexual men without gastrointestinal symptoms (P less than 0.01). Findings that were significantly more frequent in men with HSV proctitis than in men with proctitis due to other infectious causes included fever (48 per cent), difficulty in urinating (48 per cent), sacral paresthesias (26 per cent), inguinal lymphadenopathy (57 per cent), severe anorectal pain (100 per cent), tenesmus (100 per cent), constipation (78 per cent), perianal ulcerations (70 per cent), and the presence of diffuse ulcerative or discrete vesicular or pustular lesions in the distal 5 cm of the rectum (50 per cent). Serologic evidence indicated that 85 per cent of the men with symptomatic HSV proctitis were having their first episode of HSV-2 infection. The diagnosis of HSV proctitis is suggested by the presence of severe anorectal pain, difficulty in urinating, sacral paresthesias or pain, and diffuse ulceration of the distal rectal mucosa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Anus Diseases / complications
  • Herpes Simplex / diagnosis
  • Herpes Simplex / etiology*
  • Herpes Simplex / pathology
  • Homosexuality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Proctitis / diagnosis
  • Proctitis / etiology*
  • Proctitis / pathology
  • Rectal Diseases / complications
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Simplexvirus / isolation & purification