Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
Submitted anonymously via the contact form, this interviewee has a point: genital warts – the low-risk, wart-causing strains of HPV – are rarely addressed in the media or even via medical websites. The effect is those who’ve contracted them sometimes feel most alone.
Commonly, it’s the benign forms of STDs that get publicly ridiculed – think lines from Glee, The Hangover, or Pitch Perfect, for example. The result is, actually, less awareness.
Trouble is, no matter how mild the physical implications might be for the individual affected, the emotional impact registers similarly to that of those who have STDs with greater health implications, and that is why awareness, education, and, ultimately, acceptance are so important.
These interviews are the first step. So, thank you, anonymous reader, for your willingness to share your infrequently heard story!
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
I’m a law student in my final year at Oxford University.
3. What STI/STD do you have/have you had?
I have genital warts.
4. How long have you had or known you have an STI/STD?
5. Do you know how you contracted this STI/STD?
From my ex boyfriend whom I met during my gap year.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
From an external perspective, my life hasn’t changed at all; I still do all of the same things I used to do, whether its hanging out with my friends, playing music, or studying.
However, in reality, having genital warts has really negatively impacted the way I feel about myself. I’ve lost a lot of confidence and I’m not that keen on dating anyone anytime soon.
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
I have been angry, though, when I’ve heard friends of mine joking about STDs who know I have one. It’s no joke!
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.
Yes, I am currently being treated. I’ve only explored prescription medication, but I have tried to be healthier, generally.
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
Yes. The first guy I dated after getting the diagnosis freaked and wanted out of the relationship. He didn’t even want to discuss it with me. As you can imagine, this was a rather upsetting experience!
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STI/STD whom you did not tell you had an STI/STD?
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
I’ve become a more open person, because I don’t like the stigma surrounding STDs, and I want to educate others on the risks. I think it has also made me a much more accepting person, generally.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I often feel genital warts is an STD that gets forgotten about – perhaps, because it’s perceived to be less risky health-wise than, say, chlamydia or HIV. However, considering it is one of the most prevalent STDs, more should be done to make young individuals aware of the risks and implications. Just because it doesn’t cause a huge amount of pain does not mean it won’t have a huge impact on your life.
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!