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The purpose of this study was to quantify the impact of recurrent genital herpes (RGH) on health-related quality of life, healthcare resource and workplace productivity. This was a cross-sectional survey conducted in 5 countries (Australia, Denmark, Italy, The Netherlands and UK). Patients with a confirmed history of RGH completed the MOS 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) and the Recurrent Genital Herpes Quality of Life questionnaire (RGHQoL). Questionnaires addressing frequency of access to healthcare services and workplace productivity were also completed and patients' medical history was obtained. Scores for 6 of the 8 domains of the SF-36 were significantly lower (P < 0.001) i.e. worse, compared with scores for the normal population. The RGHQoL score was significantly lower in patients experiencing more frequent or more severe recurrences. Forty-five per cent of patients estimated that their work effectiveness was reduced by between 25% and 50% due to genital herpes symptoms.