Psychiatric, legal, and moral issues of herpes simplex infections

Peter J. Lynch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


When patients first realize that they have genital herpes, they are likely to have a series of psychiatric reactions that include (1) denial, (2) a belief that there is a cure, (3) realization that they do have herpes, (4) loneliness, (5) anger toward their sexual partners, (6) fear of sexual deprivation, and (7) development of a poor self-image. One of the best coping mechanisms is to develop a social support system. Despite many concerns about sexual activities, the patient's work performance often goes on as before. By 1985, law suits by'patients against those who allegedly gave them herpes had not resulted in awards at the Appeals Court level and one malpractice suit against physicians was not awarded. Genital infections in children must be regarded as potential child abuse by physicians. Morally, it is right for an infected person to disclose the existence of herpes to a potential partner but this is not always done for fear of compromising a relationship in its early phases. Because one's original infection may be asymptomatic, relating the time of acquisition of an infection to an act of infidelity cannot be judged solely on the basis of the time of the herpetic breakout.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-175
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1988


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