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J Health Psychol. 2011 Jan;16(1):80-90. doi: 10.1177/1359105310367528. Epub 2010 Jul 23.

The psychological impact of genital herpes stigma.

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Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Rousso Bldg. 142, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


This article reviews the psychological consequences of genital herpes infection through the lens of a recently proposed framework for conceptualizing concealable stigmas. We incorporate research on identity, stigma, and the connection between psychological and physical health to outline how negative stigma-related psychological consequences perpetuate distress associated with genital herpes. Our review of the research suggests a model linking negative affect and poor coping to frequent recurrences of genital herpes outbreaks. Frequent outbreaks, in turn, increase the salience of the stigma, reinforcing a stigmatized self-schema, thereby creating negative psychological consequences, continuing the cycle. We conclude by discussing the implications of this model for future research and mental health treatment.

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