November 16, 2005
The authors conducted a prospective study of the psychosocial response to a new serological herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) diagnosis in patients receiving care at an urban HIV clinic. At entry, patients' sera were tested for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies by western blot. Participants completed a 90-item psychosocial and life quality questionnaire at enrollment and at two weeks, three months and six months after receiving test results.
Of 248 HIV-infected participants, 172 (69.4 percent) were HSV-2 seropositive and 116 (67.4 percent) of those people did not have a previous history of genital herpes. After correcting for multiple comparisons, the researchers found no statistically significant differences on the psychosocial and life-quality scales between those who received a new HSV-2 serological diagnosis compared to those who were HSV-2 seropositive with a history of genital herpes, or those who tested HSV-2 seronegative. The investigators observed no significant differences in scores during follow up.
"HSV-2 was a common but often unrecognized infection in this urban HIV clinic and participants coped well with a positive HSV-2 result," the authors concluded. "Concerns about psychosocial burden should not deter serological testing for HSV-2. Given the epidemiological and clinical interaction between HSV-2 and HIV, these data support routing HSV-2 testing of HIV infected people."