22 November 2007
Doctors As Clueless About Herpes As Patients
by George Atkinson
Patients with herpes and their doctors lack important knowledge about the viral infection, according to a new survey in Sexually Transmitted Infections. Based on interviews with 400 herpes sufferers and 200 family doctors, the results show that doctors are often as poorly informed about the infection as their patients.
The survey indicated that:
- Doctors overestimated the ongoing emotional impact of herpes infection and were much less likely to recognize that patients worry more about passing on the infection to someone else than about the outbreaks themselves.
- Doctors believed that three out of four of their patients took antiviral treatment for their infection, but in reality fewer than one-in-three patients said they were doing this.
- The doctors also said that they had discussed the use of treatment to suppress infection with two-thirds of their patients. But only one-in-four patients remembered having had such a discussion.
- Both doctors and patients underestimated the risks of passing on the infection during periods when there are no obvious outward symptoms. Doctors and patients estimated that around 50 percent of infections are passed on when there are no symptoms, while the actual figure is 70 percent.
- One-in-five patients thought that herpes could be caught from toilet seats and 1-in-10 thought shaking hands could pass it on.
- Incredibly, 1-in-20 thought swimming pools and baths were also potential sources of infection.
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Source: British Medical Journal