Nine studies (1,355 participants) were included in the review. Eight were prospective cohort studies and one was a qualitative study. Follow-up ranged from immediately post test to 12 months after testing. The quality of the studies was moderate to high, with a median score of 7 out of 9 stars and a range of 5 to 8 stars.
Almost half of the participants felt sexually undesirable one year after undergoing testing.
Four of six studies of mental health found no evidence of a mental health impact from HSV serological testing. One study found significantly higher levels of distress in participants who tested HSV-2 positive when compared to those who tested negative, but no differences in depression. Another study found higher levels of mood disturbance after testing compared to baseline.
Six studies investigated coping and counselling. Two out of three studies found no differences in coping and relationship quality in newly diagnosed participants compared with negative or previously diagnosed participants. Three out of three studies found that some participants required additional counselling after receiving a HSV-2 diagnosis, although in two of these studies the proportions were very small.
Five studies of sexual satisfaction found no evidence of a difference in sexual health and attitudes in HSV-2 positive participants when compared with baseline or seronegative participants.
Two out of three studies of herpes-related quality of life found no differences in quality of life scores in HSV-2 positive participants when compared with baseline or previously diagnosed participants.
Two out of four studies of HSV-2 perception and stigma found that a HSV-2 diagnosis was traumatic but two other studies found no differences in perception of stigma in HSV-2 positive participants when compared with baseline or HSV-2 negative persons.
There was no evidence of differences in acceptability of testing (three studies).