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Herpes simplex testing 'does no psychological harm'

Diagnosis of the herpes simplex virus type 2 through serological testing does not cause long-term psychosocial harm in people who had no previous history of the virus.

Researchers systematically reviewed nine studies which looked at changes in the sexual attitude and mental health of patients following diagnosis.

While the study found some literature describes heightened rates of anxiety, distress and sexual dissatisfaction after diagnosis, the researchers found serological testing did not have any lasting adverse psychosocial affects, and concluded that concerns about sustained emotional impact should not deter GPs from offering testing.

Dr Christine Johnston, from the University of Washington Virology Research Clinic, Seattle said: ‘Broader testing would allow HSV-2-positive persons to receive appropriate treatment for undiagnosed HSV-2-related symptoms, and would allow both HSV-2-seropositive and seronegative persons to receive herpes counselling and education.'

Sex Transm Infect 2001, published early online 8 September

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