Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences




In the United States, the prevalence of herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) continues to be the highest among African American women. Yet the perceived benefit of discussing sexual health, as well as recognizing a need to discuss HSV-2 with a health-care provider, is a gap in research. The purpose of this interpretive qualitative study was to understand the experiences of African American women who received an asymptomatic HSV-2 diagnosis. Semistructured interviews of seven participants were used to explore the experiences of African American women diagnosed with HSV-2, including barriers and challenges of discussing HSV-2 with health-care providers. Participants highlighted that a decrease in condom use arises when emotional commitment is established, and a lower perception of the severity of disease occurs when controlling symptoms with medication is understood and communicated. Results from the study also highlighted that not all participants preferred African American health-care providers, and participants were pleased that sexual partners were supportive of their diagnosis disclosures. African American women and their corresponding providers could benefit from sexual health education initiatives that address this information, as well as the results from this study.