Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Herpes simplex virus-Patients-Psychology, Sexually transmitted diseases-Psychological aspects, Herpes simplex virus-Psychological aspects, Couples-Psychology, Stigma (Social psychology), Intimacy (Psychology), Herpes, Sexual health, Disclosure, Self-disclosure-Psychological aspects., Sex, Intimate partners, Relationships, Sexually transmitted illness (STI), Prevention, Safe-sex, Stigmatization


The purpose of this study was to explore in greater depth the effects of Sexually Transmitted Illness (STI) stigma on intimate relationships by examining the reactions of non-infected intimate partners to their female partner's disclosure of her Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) positive status. The research question was: what are non-infected partners perceptions, reactions, feelings and attitudes to their female partner's disclosure of HSV positive status? This exploratory mixed-methods study was informed by the extant literature on STI stigma and intimate relationships. The lens of stigma theory is used to frame the discussion of the findings. Forty-three participants responded to the predominantly quantitative online survey. Inclusion criteria required that the participant was over the age of 18 and had been disclosed to by his/her female Herpes positive intimate partner. Noteworthy findings point to both similarities and differences in gender responses to disclosure and speak to a general trend of partner positive emotional response to HSV+ disclosure in intimate relationships among this sample. Study findings further underline the importance of pre-intercourse disclosure, and the role of disclosure in supporting safe-sex practices and information seeking behavior.




iv, 78 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 65-68)