Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
As an anonymous submission via the contact form, this interview touches on some pertinent issues which affect all of us who’ve contracted an STD – no matter the type of sexually transmitted infection.
Across the board, stigma negatively affects all of us, and a lack of education surrounding the pathophysiology behind these infections sometimes elicits some incredibly ignorant and, ultimately, painful remarks (read: contracting an STD from a toilet seat).
That’s why sharing these perspectives aids in minimizing misconceptions. STDs – all kinds – happen to people from all walks of life, and it’s our job to support one another, to help educate, and to reduce the stigma together.
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
3. What STI/STD do you have/have you had?
I’ve had chlamydia, HPV, and HSV2.
4. How long have you had or known you have an STI/STD?
HPV was diagnosed 15 years ago, herpes 2 years ago.
5. Do you know how you contracted this STI/STD?
No. It was one of 3 men, and none of them admitted to having any STDs.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
It hasn’t changed that much, other than feeling unwell for a few days during an [HSV] outbreak.
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
Sometimes, I feel that certain people who know treat me differently. An example is a family member who doesn’t let me babysit for them anymore, and I have no real way of knowing if it’s related or not, but this person once told me they were grossed out to know someone else in the family had herpes, because they had shared a bathroom with that person.
I’ve also had the experience where I’ve opened up to someone about it, and they said they had it too and that it’s no big deal.
8. Are you currently under treatment for your STI/STD? If so, please share whether you have explored prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or holistic and natural approaches.
I’ve tried prescription medication and am looking into trying supplements like vitamin c and L-lysine.
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
Yes. I hadn’t been diagnosed with herpes when we met, and it was still a big mystery as to what I might have; so, he contracted the virus from me.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STI/STD whom you did not tell you had an STI/STD?
I may have by accident, since I did not know I had herpes.
I’ve always told my partners I have HPV, though.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
I feel I can educate people more about STDs, and, hopefully, remove some of the attached stigma, because [STDs] are so common.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I am tired of STDs being treated like they are some awful thing that only happens to people who sleep around and do bad things – rather than viewing them as the common side effect of sex that they are.
Can you relate to this interviewee? Did it help you to read someone else’s story? Have you experienced something similar or do you have some feedback to share with this individual? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!