Psychosocial factors and recurrent genital herpes: a review of prediction and psychiatric treatment studies

Int J Psychiatry Med. 1993;23(2):99-117. doi: 10.2190/L5MH-0TCW-1PKD-5BM0.


Objective: The purpose of this review was to evaluate the evidence which supports the association between psychosocial factors and genital herpes simplex virus recurrences (HSV), as well as to examine the biological and psychological treatments for disease.

Method: Forty-five studies were reviewed from the years 1928 to 1991. Studies were identified via computerized biographic literature search of Psychological Abstracts and Medline. Additional studies were located by inspection of key article reference sections. Studies were included in the review if the sample consisted of recurrent genital herpes sufferers and the design was either correlational or experimental. Cases studies were reviewed if they described HSV psychiatric treatment and provided outcome information.

Results: Psychosocial variables are important elements in the prediction, maintenance, and management of recurrent genital herpes. Furthermore, the effectiveness of psychological treatment regimes may be explained via psychoimmunological theory.

Conclusions: Psychosocial treatment should be considered as adjunctive therapy for biological treatment of recurrent HSV infections. Future research should address primary prevention of genital herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infections.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acyclovir / therapeutic use
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Herpes Genitalis / diagnosis*
  • Herpes Genitalis / etiology
  • Herpes Genitalis / therapy
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Probability
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / etiology
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Recurrence
  • Risk-Taking
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Acyclovir