Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Fall 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


School of Communication Studies


Kathryn Hobson

Alison Bodkin

Matthew Brigham


It is estimated that by 2025, 49% of the female population and 39% of the male population, aged 15-39, will have contracted herpes simplex virus 2, or as it is more commonly known, genital herpes (Fisman, Lipsitch, Hook & Goldie, 2002). However, little is understood about the ways that those with genital herpes communicate their condition with potential partners, friends, or family members. Using in-depth qualitative interviews this research focuses on understanding the unique patterns that individuals with genital herpes engage to disclose their status to significant others. Utilizing the theories of Communication Privacy Management and the Disclosure Decision-Making Model we begin to investigate the impetus and the barriers for disclosure of a genital herpes status. Those with genital herpes disclose their status to protect themselves or partners, obtain emotional support, alleviate a known situation, or to maintain relationships. It emerged that those with genital herpes are more likely to refrain from disclosure due to a fear of stigmatization or a desire to control personal information. This research indicates that there is more to understand about genital herpes disclosures and provides the practical information that health practitioners should give to those recently diagnosed to help them process their new reality.



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